N-liability bill introduced amid opposition protests

Posted by on May 7th, 2010 and filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) The government introduced the contentious civil nuclear liability bill in the Lok Sabha Friday, the last day of the current parliament session, amid an uproar from opposition benches and a walkout by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left MPs.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left parties dismissed the bill as ‘unconstitutional’ and walked out of the house. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the AIADMK also protested.

However, the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) did not join the protest.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, seeks to provide for civil liability for nuclear damage, the appointment of a claims commissioner and the establishment of a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission.

‘It’s contrary to articles of the constitution. It’s illegal and unconstitutional,’ BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told the house. Sinha accused the government of acting under US pressure.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Basudeb Acharia said the bill was against the spirit of the constitution.

In the statement of objects and reasons in the bill, Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said ‘many countries, which are engaged in nuclear power generation are having their own legislations and some of them are party to one or other regimes’.

He said India was not party to any of the nuclear liability conventions.

‘Indian nuclear industry has been developed within the context of a domestic framework established by the Atomic Energy Act, 1962. There is no provision in the said Act about the nuclear liability or compensation for nuclear damage due to nuclear accident or incident and no other law deals with nuclear liability for nuclear damage in the event of nuclear incident.’

Chavan said: ‘It is, therefore, considered necessary to enact a legislation which provides for nuclear liability that might arise due to a nuclear incident and also on the necessity of joining an international liability regime.’

Earlier, the government had deferred the tabling of the bill in the first half of the budget session in March in the face of a hostile opposition.

The passing of the legislation is one of the last remaining steps required to operationalise the 2008 India-US 123 civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

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