But for an ‘and’ CPM will accept nuke Bill

After the BJP made conciliatory noises over the nuclear liability Bill, the Left parties also appear ready to blink.

If the BJP’s grouse was the “ India- centric” focus of the Bill, the Left parties want the foreign suppliers of raw materials to also be liable in case of a disaster.

The four Left parties debated the parliamentary standing committee report on the Bill on Thursday and came up with a specific objection — the usage of the word “ and” in clause 17.

The clause talks about the liability of foreign suppliers and says under sub-clause (a) that they are liable only if they have a written contract with the nuclear plant operator specifying this.

The standing committee report has recommended that a sub-clause (b) should be included, saying foreign suppliers are also liable if there is a latent or patent defect, supply of sub- standard material, defective equipment or services or gross negligence on the part of the supplier.

But it has also added an “and” between subclauses (a) and (b), which implies that the supplier is liable only if all these issues are mentioned in the written contract.

“ We are all aware that no American supplier will sign such a written contract with the Indian government operator. The entire Bill has been designed to protect them on the insistence of the American government.

We are happy the standing committee included clause (b) but it should delete the ‘ and’ which renders it ineffective,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said.

However, Karat’s tough stand against the Bill as well as the Indo- US nuclear deal appears to have diluted considerably.

Queried on whether the Left parties would support the Bill if the UPA accommodated the “ and” deletion, he said: “ We will be willing to consider it.” The Left parties have also raised other objections, including the cap on liability on the part of the operator.

The standing committee recommendations revised the cap from the original Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,500 crore, but the Left parties feel there should not be a cap limiting this amount at all.


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