We Will Never Accept Nuclear Liability Bill: BJP

New Delhi
We Will Never Accept Nuclear Liability Bill: BJP
BJP today accused the UPA of trying to push the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, in Lok Sabha under US pressure and said it would never support the legislation as by putting all liability on the government, it was transferring this burden to the taxpayer.

"The bill not only limits the liability, it also transfers a large part of the liability to the government, in other words, the taxpayer," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said.

BJP, which had earlier demanded that the government give an explanation as to why it was deferring tabling of the bill after listing it in the day's business in the Lower House, also does not want a cap on the liability.

Sinha himself wrote a letter to the Secretary General, Lok Sabha, citing the problems BJP has with the bill.

BJP alleged that the bill was being brought under US pressure mainly to keep the two American multinationals - Westinghouse and General Electric - from paying any liability and making the Indian government liable to pay in case of an accident. "We will never accept this bill," Sinha said.

Opposition leaders alleged that US was putting pressure on India after Union Carbide had to pay huge compensation to victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj yesterday to convince her, Sinha said, adding that BJP would not relent.

BJP also wants parity with US citizens and Indians in compensation and insists that the bill violates Article 21 (Right to protection of life and personal liberty).

"The liability under Price Anderson Act of the US is $ 12.5 billion which is 23 times higher than the liability fixed for an Indian operator. Clearly, the life of an Indian is only worth a dime compared to the life of an American," Sinha said, adding that this was violation of Article 14 (Right to Equality) of Indian Constitution.

The main opposition alleged that government is bowing to the US while countries like Russia, Germany, Canada and France were ready for a deal without these "discriminatory" clauses.

"Moreover, the Indian courts will not have any jurisdiction in these matters... No Indian court can order any nuclear supplier to pay any compensation," Sinha maintained.

He alleged that the Indian government was allowing foreign suppliers to go "scot-free" which should not be the case under the "polluter pays principle".

"This shows the government is functioning in a muddle-headed manner... It appears that this government is totally rudderless and nobody is in-charge of it," the former External Affairs Minister alleged.

The main opposition argued that it was not stopping the nuclear deal but asserted that there cannot be a "country-specific law" in India.

"We have no trust in this government," Sinha said.
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