The government on Sunday indicated it is “open’’ to any formulation from the Opposition to break the deadlock over the alleged dilution of suppliers’ liability in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage bill. But there is a rider: the changes should be acceptable to it.
In the next two days, MoS for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan would meet Opposition leaders, including from the BJP and Left to seek suggestions on how to deal with their reservations on clause 17 (b) relating to suppliers liability before the bill is brought to Lok Sabha on Wednesday. But before that, the government will need to get the Department of Atomic Energy’s “bottomline’’ on clause 17 (b). “If the Opposition suggests a better formulation for the clause, we have an open mind...’’ said Chavan.
Sources said the government could consider dropping clause 17 (b) which relates to suppliers liability or delete the word “intent’’ in the subclause that specifies that an operator can act against the supplier if the latter had an “intent to cause nuclear damage’’.
But the Opposition is likely to call for a firming up this clause — a move the government may be averse to for fear of chasing away suppliers.
As of now there is a deadlock. The BJP has said it will oppose the bill after the changes reportedly introduced in the draft.
“We are examining all papers. Prima facie it appears there is a deviation from the text that was agreed upon. The language substantially nullifies the supplier’s liability,” said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, “We are clear that the scope of clause 17 (b) cannot be diluted. If it is diluted... the BJP will object to it in Parliament.”
The Left plans to bring two amendments to tighten clauses 6 and 17 so there is unlimited liability in case of an accident and supplier liability is strengthened.