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N-liability bill after LS break

delhi Updated: Mar 16, 2010 23:04 IST
Saroj Nagi

Having failed in its first attempt, the government is now determined to introduce the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill in the second half of the Budget session that begins from April 12 after a 25-day break.

“We are determined to introduce the bill in the Lok Sabha once the financial business is over in the post-recess session,’’ said a Union minister.

But to create an atmosphere for it, the government has a three-pronged plan.

The first part was initiated on Tuesday when it roped National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon to brief its media managers and some young MPs, including those from the minority community, with arguments to counter the Opposition onslaught on the issue and to remove popular misconceptions on the bill.

A 12-page background note that rebuts the Opposition’s charges was circulated among the 10-odd MPs at Tuesday’s meeting in the office of Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal. Those present included Union ministers Kapil Sibal, Prithviraj Chavan and Sachin Pilot and MPs Jayanti Natarajan, Sandeep Dikshit, Manish Tewari, Rajiv Shukla, Rashid Alvi and Mausam Noor.

The second part will be unfolded when the government brings the bill by ensuring the full attendance of its 274 MPs and the seven independent/ unattached members now backing the UPA.

Earlier this week, 35 Congress MPs went missing from the House forcing the government to defer its introduction — a lapse that has upset Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

At the first meeting of the 26-member Congress parliamentary party executive on Tuesday Gandhi voiced concern at absenteeism and asked her MPs to take attendance more seriously. She also wanted greater coordination between floor managers and MPs and a proper briefing on the bills coming up in the two Houses.

The third part of the plan involves sending envoys like Menon to remove the “misconceptions’’ of the BJP and Left leaders on the bill, urge them not to oppose its introduction and give their views when the Standing panel looks into it.

The bill, according to the government, is imperative to ensure payment of compensation to victims in case of a nuclear mishap.