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Lok Sabha passes Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010

The Lok Sabha passed, by voice vote, the controversial Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010, which, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ends India’s nuclear apartheid

Creating consensus over contentious clauses in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill 2010, the government got it passed in the Lok Sabha through a voice vote, on August 25, 2010. 

This ended months of political wrangling between the government and Opposition parties. The government agreed to remove the word “intent” from Clause 17 (b), which had been at the root of the Opposition’s protests. The Opposition said the wording of the clause would make it difficult to get compensation in case of a nuclear accident. 

The House, however, rejected an amendment that the liability cap for operators in case of an accident be raised from Rs 1,500 crore in the Bill to Rs 10,000 crore. Minister of State for Science and Technology, Prithviraj Chavan, told the House the liability was “unlimited”. 

Dispelling apprehensions about the Bill, Chavan said this legislation took into account merely the civil liability aspect. “The criminal liability was already there where liabilities are unlimited.”  

On charges of rushing the Bill through the House, Chavan said: “We have already lost five years.” The Bill, which has witnessed a lot of objections and fierce wrangling between the government and the Opposition, is part of the landmark 2008 Atomic Energy pact with the US that granted India access to foreign nuclear technology.  

Concluding the debate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to the need to deal with nuclear issues “with utmost care” and said that the nuclear regulatory board would be strengthened. 

Source: UNI, August 26, 2010
             The Hindustan Times, August 26, 2010