Prakash Karat on Tuesday said the CPM was willing to take another look at the nuclear liabililties bill if the government reworked it, but would oppose its introduction in Parliament in the present form.
In conversation with HT, the CPM general-secretary said, “We are not in favour of the introduction of the bill in the present form. Let the government come back to the political parties with the changes they intend to make to the bill. So far, we haven’t heard from the government on the issue”.
Karat said the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill was flawed in not fixing the liability on foreign suppliers in case of a nuclear accident, and that the Centre should redraft the bill the same way it was redrafting the Food Security Bill.
About the BJP being primarily opposed to the capping of liability, Karat said “There is a blanket exemption given to the foreign suppliers in the case of any nuclear accident. A manufacturing defect is possible and that can lead to an accident. There can be faulty equipment supply by the foreign firms that could lead to an accident... We learn that the government, is of late reworking on bills, like the Food Security Bill. Let them redraft this one, too.”
On the government saying that operator liability was the international practice in liability law, Karat retorted “We are talking about India. And Bhopal (gas tragedy) is in front of us. I have been mentioning it.”
The Centre is keen to introduce the bill in Parliament, saying that it is open to changes at the standing committee level. Sources said this should help the Centre meet a “possible July-August deadline” for the implementation of the India-US nuclear deal. Politically, the government will not be in a position to antagonise all parties together on legislative matters.
On the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh, Karat said, “No state government can single-handedly deal with the Maoists.”