The Left parties today objected to the clubbing of two clauses in
the proposed civil nuclear liability bill, saying this was done to
protect the foreign equipment suppliers from any responsibility in
case of a nuclear accident.
The parties also opposed the cap of Rs
1,500 crore on the liability of a nuclear plant operator, saying it
was "hardly significant", pointing out that a nuclear accident would
be much more devastating than the Bhopal gas disaster.
Top leaders of the CPI (M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc appealed to
all political parties to reconsider their position regarding the
proposed legislation as the Standing Committee's recommendations
"will not substantially improve it".
Demanding the cap should be raised to
at least Rs 10,000 crore, CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat
said, "None of the international nuclear liability conventions set
any cap on total liability but only set a floor level".
The clubbing of two clauses on the right of recourse of a nuclear
plant operator was aimed at protecting the foreign equipment
suppliers, he told reporters after a meeting of top Left leaders
Referring to Clause 17 of the bill, he
said the right of the operator to claim damages from the supplier of
nuclear equipment and material (right of recourse) has "now been
made entirely contingent on whether such right is explicitly
provided in the private contract between the operator and supplier".
In the likely scenario of the foreign suppliers not agreeing to
provide for right of recourse in the contract, they cannot be held
liable for any nuclear damage, even if they have supplied defective
equipment, Karat said.
"What is more dubious is that this
significant weakening of Clause 17 has been done under the guise of
strengthening the right of recourse against the foreign suppliers",
Karat was flanked by Left leaders A B Bardhan, D Raja (both CPI),
Debabrate Biswas (Forward Bloc) and Abani Roy (RSP).
He chose not to comment on the alleged
trade-off between Congress and BJP over the nuclear bill issue by
CBI exonerating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the
Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.
But his senior party colleague Sitaram Yechury said, "The timing of
both the things (Narendra Modi and the nuclear liability bill) has
naturally generated suspicions of an alleged trade-off."
"The Congress and BJP should explain.
Such horse-trading should not take place at the cost of national
interest," Yechury added.