The government, which is keen to clear the House hurdle and is hoping to add a nuclear victory to the Prime Minister’s August 15 speech will push for reintroduction of the civil nuclear bill in Parliament next week.
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010, the major step facilitating operationalisation of the UPA-I’s 123 Agreement with US, will be reintroduced in the ongoing session of Parliament on August 12.
The bill providing for civil liability for nuclear damage due to accidents or incidents and related claims process, was introduced on last day of the budget session in Lok Sabha amidst uproarious scenes and a walkout by the opposition benches.
“After scrutinising the contents clause-by-clause today with suggestions from secretaries of various departments we decided to meet again on August 9, when we would wind up with arrived at insertions and conclusions, Dr T. Subbarami Reddy, chairman, committee on science and technology, environment and forests, reviewing the bill told HT.
According to sources, the panel is set to propose some major changes in the bill.
These include: Liability of the operator in case of nuclear accidents to be raised from the present Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore.
The time within which claims should be made would also be extended from 10 years to 20 years. In another major change, the committee has agreed to allow a victim to approach civil courts. Clause 35 of the present bill excludes jurisdiction of civil courts over claims.
Going with demand from the opposition, the supplier liability has been strengthened. The committee is also against the overwhelming use and influence of bureaucracy in the provisions and execution of the bill.
The present bill says a panel under Cabinet Secretary with secretaries of atomic energy and law and justice, as members would select the commissioner and members of claims commission.
The bill’s applicability though would be limited to government and associated corporations like NPCIL etc.
“A rough draft would be circulated taking into account these observations. The bill would be ready for re-introduction on August 12,” a member said. “The government is anxious to bring in the legislation even though 100s of loop holes are yet to be corrected,” another member said.
The committee, with the task of making the bill acceptable to the opposition and allies met several times, hearing the views of experts. On Thursday it heard out secretaries of agriculture, atomic energy, law and justice, environment, labor and employment and health and family welfare.