The government on Friday dropped the word ‘and’ recommended by the parliamentary panel to be added between the clauses relating to supplier liability in the Nuclear Liability Bill.
But it remains to be seen how far the government can address the demands of US suppliers who are not ready to be pushed too far on the question of liability in the amended Bill.
The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, put its stamp of approval on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Bill deciding to omit the word ‘and’ connecting two sub-clauses of the draft legislation. The cabinet also accepted most of the recommendations of the standing committee including raising the operator liability to R1,500.
“We have agreed to retain pre-standing committee formation on Clause 17”, Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
Sources maintained that the change was made because of the BJP-Left pressure.
The semblance of consensus on the Bill was virtually shattered with Left parties criticising the government for introducing the word ‘and’ between Clause 17 (a) and Clause 17 (b), a move they claimed diluted the obligation of foreign suppliers of nuclear equipment in case of an accident.
The BJP, which had agreed to support the Bill, also joined the Left and raised the matter with the Centre on Thursday.
The fresh concerns led to a series of consultations within the government all through Thursday and an agreement was reached within to not to accept the suggestion pertaining to that particular sub-clause in the Committee report.