[It looks that wide public criticism had its impact. For once at least. This is no doubt heartening. But we should be on our toes. As the government s original
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, Sep 20, 2013
[It looks that wide public criticism had its impact. For once at least. This is no doubt heartening. But we should be on our toes. As the government's original intention is reflected in is move in seeking AG's opinion and the opinion it obtained to the effect that the operator - a state body - is free to waive off its "right to recourse" as provided in the Act to the benefit of the supplier and to the detriment of the tax paying Indian citizens.
Existing nuclear liability act won’t be diluted: Salman Khurshid
By ET Bureau | 20 Sep, 2013, 02.43AM IST
NEW DELHI: The government has clarified amid mounting pressure from the Opposition against diluting clauses on accident compensations in the country's nuclear liability law that it will not waive the right to recourse.
"The existing Nuclear Liability Act will not be diluted in any way. There is no retreating from the position that we have taken in Parliament," external affairs minister Salman Khurshid told the media on Thursday.
The development is set to come in the way of the Cabinet Committee on Security's plans to clear an agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and US-based operator, Westinghouse Electric Company, on September 24. The nuclear liability law is seen by the United States as the biggest impediment in implementing the India-US civil nuclear deal. An agreement between NPCIL and the US firm during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming visit to the US would have brought the momentum back into the bilateral relationship.
In an opinion to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India on Wednesday, the Attorney Generalhad said that NPCIL had the right to waive liability provision if it worked out a commercial contract to buy nuclear reactors from overseas. The opinion, which forms part of the agenda for the meeting of the Cabinet, was interpreted by Opposition parties as an appeasement of US-based firms, General Electric and Westinghouse Electric, on the eve of the prime minister's visit to Washington.
The issue had come up during US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to India in July, a government official said. "Both sides had discussed the possibility of adjustments that NPCIL could do in individual contracts with the US firms to limit the liability," said the official, who did not wish to be named.
Opposition leaders argued that the AG's opinion amounted to repudiating a right that Parliament explicitly wrote into section 17(b) of the law for ensuring penalties on foreign suppliers in the event of a nuclear accident.
The Department of Atomic Energy came up with a detailed clarification. "The contracts, which will have to be approved by the competent authority of the government, will be fully consistent with Indian law. There is no question of Indian law being violated or diluted," said a statement from CBS Venkataramana, additional secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy.
Strategic expert C Rajamohan blamed the government for the crisis. "The liability Act is a bad law. It is not in conformity with international standards. The government has mismanaged the entire affair and it is being painted that the law will be diluted under US pressure. The Russians and the French are also unhappy about it. Indian suppliers are also upset with the Act," he said.
-- Peace Is Doable
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