Thursday, March 18, 2010

Need for positive thinking on N- Civil Liability Bill

The landmark Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal can only operationalise after the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 is passed by Parliament. The opposition to Nuclear Deal with the US by the Left parties is well known as they had withdrawn outside support to UPA-I government on this very issue, though it got the approval of Parliament at that time. Now when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-11 government prepared to get the Liability Bill passed in Parliament to operationalise Nuclear Deal in line with international usual norms, it is opposed both by BJP and Left. But it is necessary international practice to put the Liability Bill in place for smooth operationalisation of Indo-US Nuclear Deal. The Left since beginning has been only opposing the bill only because of Nuclear Deal had been struck with the US. Their outdated ideological belief prevents them from supporting the bill and their opposition does not hold any water. As far as BJP is concerned, it is opposing the bill now for opposition’s sake while the fact of the matter is that Civil Nuclear Deal with the US was initiated by none other than the BJP-led NDA government. Though the government has defered the bill, the Left and the BJP must rise above vested political interests and let the Liability Bill be passed in the Parliament. Opposition to bill has again opened a debate on whether it adheres to international best practises.The Opposition questions UPA government for its stand on the Nuclear Liability Bill, which appears to favour US companies to set up nuclear installations in India.The country has also an urgent need to boost its nuclear power generation from 4,001 MW to 20,000 MW, almost five-fold, by 2020 to make up for the acute power shortages envisaged in the coming years.In case of a nuclear disaster in its plants in India, the liability has been estimated at Rs 2,600 crore. The Nuclear Liability Bill 2010, its present format, caps the liability of the nuclear plant operator at Rs 500 crore.Any damage more than this amount will have to be footed by the government. The Bill also provides that compensation will be decided by a Commission for Nuclear Liability. The opposition parties, especially, the Left and the BJP must think positively on the issue and let the government pass the Liability Bill in the interest of the nation.

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