August 26, 2010

the nuclear liability bill: win win for Congress and BJP

The bill has finally been passed by the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. As was expected, the ruling Congress and the main opposition party, BJP joined hands after long debates.Both showed remarkable bonhomie yesterday in praising each other.

To be fair to the government, it showed a lot of resilience and pragmatism in carrying the bill through parliament: it accepted 18 amendments to its original draft. Though it did not bow to the Left demand to raise the limit of compensation to Rs. 10,000 crore, it accommodated major opposition viewpoints. There would have been less of discord, had the officials drafting the bill not tried to play smart: first by putting an ‘and’ and then an ‘intention’ clause to soften liability falling on foreign suppliers. This was in bad taste and proved that a part of the government was trying to be exceptionally soft on the suppliers.

Now that the bill is near becoming a law [it has to be passed by the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, before it is signed by the President], it paves the way for creation of nuclear power plants in the country immediately. International nuclear energy majors are eyeing a huge [about $150 billion; Rs. 7,00,000 crore] market in India. The bill is especially important for US companies since their liabilities are not underwritten by the government, unlike their French and Russian counterparts.

Some of the important provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Act are:
  • Liability cap: Rs. 1,500 crore [about $ 320 million]; Government may notify higher damages up to SDR 300 million [Rs. 2,100 crore]
  • Liability in the case of an accident on: Operator, but he can sue the supplier if the accident has resulted a s a consequence of act of supplier or his employee which includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects or substandard services
  • Claims can be filed in case of personal injury up to 20 years after the accident.
  • Appeal in High Courts and Supreme Court for review of compensation

Chat unchat

"...I categorically state that this bill is a completion of journey to end the nuclear apartheid which the world had imposed on India..." Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Lok Sabha on 25th August, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment