Sticking to their firm opposition to the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, BJP leaders say that they suspect the Bill has been designed to open up civil nuclear field to private players at a later stage.
Both the BJP and the government are firm on their stands, a day after the National Security Advisor met BJP leaders. The BJP says that it is ready to oppose the Bill in Parliament.
The government had said on Wednesday that private operation of nuclear reactors was not being planned.
“However, the fact that the Bill limits the operator’s liability to Rs. 500 crore, and then transfers the liability to the government up to a damage of Rs. 2,100 crore, raises suspicions,” said a senior BJP leader.
“If only the public sector was to operate reactors, why create this distinction? We suspect they want to get this passed under the present public sector regime, and then provide benefits to foreign companies by opening up the field later.” And if they do so, he added, taxpayers would end up paying for loss of Indian lives above a damage of Rs. 500 crore.
Replying to the claim that the Rs. 500 crore cap — to be claimed by accident victims irrespective of operator negligence via a special tribunal —was in addition to the normal judicial remedy that a victim could avail on grounds of operator negligence, the BJP leader said: “This means multiplicity of litigation for the hapless victim. First, he moves the tribunal to claim compensation irrespective of operator negligence.
Then he moves court to prove negligence and claim further damages from the operator. Why this harassment of the already battered victim? And what if someone argues that courts are now excluded as a tribunal is already there for this purpose?” He added: “This argument itself is flawed. A nuclear reactor demands cent percent efficiency. Negligence must be presumed if an accident does take place.”