Nuclear Liability Bill: Underhand Deal Struck?

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Sukla Sen

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Aug 18, 2010, 10:00:14 AM8/18/10
to foil-l, nonuclear
[Quote
Quoting from a newspaper report that no charges had been framed against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake shootout, the Left parties, along with the RJD and LJP alleged that the Congress and BJP had struck a deal over passing the nuclear liability bill.
Unquote]


Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day

2010-08-18 13:50:00

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day Wednesday over illegal mining and allegations that the government and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party had struck a deal over passing the contentious civil nuclear liability bill.

As soon as the house reasembled at 12 noon after its first adjournment, opposition members were on their feet, with the Bahujan Samaj Party demanding the dismissal of the Karnataka government over illegal mining and the Left parties, the RJD and the LJP alleging a deal between Congress and the BJP over the nuclear liability bill.

Quoting from a newspaper report that no charges had been framed against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake shootout, the Left parties, along with the RJD and LJP alleged that the Congress and BJP had struck a deal over passing the nuclear liability bill.

Amidst the din, Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan adjourned the house for the day, but not before the report of the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology on the nuclear bill was tabled in the house.

The report is believed to recommend that the liability cap on a nuclear plant's operator in case of an accident be tripled to Rs.1,500 crore from that provided in the bill.

Members from the RJD and the LJP later staged a protest in the parliament complex alleging that the government and the main opposition had unified.

'Congress and BJP are one. This is a deal to pass the nuclear liability bill,' LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan said.

'(Amit) Shah is in jail, how is it possible that he is involved and the chief minister did not know anything,' asked Ram Kripal Yadav of the RJD, referring to the arrest of the former Gujarat minister of state for home for his alleged role in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing.

Among the other changes recommended in the nuclear liability bill are a new clause making it clear that the bill will only apply to nuclear plants owned and operated by government, increasing the compensation claim period from 10 to 20 years and the setting up of a nuclear liability fund along the lines of a similar fund in the United States.

The government wants the bill to be passed in the current session of parliament that concludes Aug 31 so that the law is in place before the November visit of US president Barack Obama.




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Sukla Sen

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Aug 19, 2010, 9:29:34 AM8/19/10
to national-fo...@yahoogroups.co.in, nonuclear, foil-l
The interpretation as regards the consequence of addition of the conjunction "and" at the end of the sub-clause 17 (a) offered below may not be the only possible one.
It can very well be argued that, regardless, 17(a) and 17 (b) by virtue of the very fact that they are still two separate sub-clauses and are not combined into one signifies that these are to be treated as such. As two separate ones.
But there can hardly be any doubt that the addition of this "and" is an act of deliberate mischief to make things murky. Perhaps so as to (seemingly) satisfy conflicting demands all at the same time.

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) had demnded that 17 (a) should make the inclusion of "right of recourse" in respective contracts mandatory. The strengthening of 17 (b), as has been done here, could very well have served the same purpose.
But the addition of the (superfluous?) "and" at the end of 17 (a) has changed all that.
If the interpretation given below holds, which by no means is an unlikley propsition, then instead of being strengthened, the erstwhile 17(b) virtually stands deleted and the new 17 (b) is now only an additional explanatory note to earlier 17 (a).

Under the circumstances the "and" must be deleted or inclusion of "right of recourse" in respective contracts between the operator and supplier(s) must be made mandatory.

Apart from this, there must be only one cap on liabilities for the operators, not two.
And, the overall cap on liabilities must go.
More detailed comments will, however, have to wait till the cabinet approves the revised text and it is available.

Sukla
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <subhash...@yahoo.com>
Date: 19 August 2010 22:10
Subject: Re: National Forum | Nuclear Liability Bill: Underhand Deal Struck?
To: Nandita Haksar <national-fo...@yahoogroups.co.in>, Sukla Sen <sukl...@gmail.com>


marxistindia
news from the cpi(m)
August 19, 2010

Left Parties Statement



On Standing Committee Report on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill



The Left parties had, at the very outset, opposed the draft legislation on Civil Nuclear Liability when it was sought to be introduced in Parliament. A reading of the Bill made it clear that the purpose of the legislation is directed more towards protecting the US nuclear reactor suppliers from claims of liability and compensation and less about providing effective and speedy compensation to the people affected by a nuclear accident. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology has now submitted its report in which it has made certain recommendations. The members of the Left Parties in the Standing Committee have registered their dissent to the report and recommendations. The Left Parties wish to explain to the people the objectionable features that would still exist in the legislation if the recommendations of the Standing Committee are accepted.



Protecting Foreign Suppliers



Clause 17 of the Bill currently reads as follows:



17. The operator of a nuclear installation shall have a right of recourse where -

(a) such right is expressly provided for in a contract in writing;

(b) the nuclear incident has resulted from the wilful act or gross negligence on

the part of the supplier of the material, equipment or services, or of his employee;

(c) the nuclear incident has resulted from the act of commission or omission of

a person done with the intent to cause nuclear damage.

The Standing Committee has recommended that Clause 17 should now be amended as follows (changes in bold):

17. The operator of a nuclear installation shall have a right of recourse where -

(a) such right is expressly provided for in a contract in writing; and

(b) the nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of latent or patent defect, supply of sub-standard material, defective equipment or services or from the gross negligence on the part of the supplier of the material, equipment or services.

(c) the nuclear incident has resulted from the act of commission or omission of

a person done with the intent to cause nuclear damage.

By adding "and" in sub-clause 17 (a), the right of the operator to claim damages from the supplier of nuclear equipment and material (right of recourse) has now been made entirely contingent on whether such right is explicitly provided in the private contract between the operator and supplier. In the likely scenario of the foreign suppliers not agreeing to provide for right of recourse in the contract, they cannot be held liable for any nuclear damage, even if they have supplied defective equipment. What is more dubious is that this significant weakening of Clause 17 has been done under the guise of strengthening the right of recourse against the foreign suppliers.

The US administration and the American nuclear industry lobby have objected to sub-clause 17 (b). They are not prepared to accept the right of recourse for the Indian operator vis-à-vis American suppliers. The Standing Committee recommendation is fully in line with the demand of the American lobbies. This amendment linking 17 (a) and 17 (b) will make it worse than what is there in the original Bill.

Liability Cap Unacceptable

The recommendation to enhance the operator's liability cap from Rs. 500 crore to Rs. 1500 crore is hardly significant, since total liability for each nuclear incident remains capped at 300 million SDRs (Rs. 2122.40 crore or $ 455 million) as per Clause 6 (1). This amount is less than even the Bhopal settlement of $ 470 million, which has been acknowledged as grossly inadequate by the Government itself.



It is noteworthy that none of the international nuclear liability conventions set any cap on total liability, but only set a floor. Countries like South Korea and Sweden have set operator's liability at 300 million SDRs, not total liability. The operator's liability in the US is $ 11.9 billion. Countries like Japan, Russia and Germany do not have any cap on total liability. In contrast, the Indian bill seeks to cap total liability to 300 million SDRs, displaying scant regard for the lives and security of the Indian people.

Further Objections

The Standing Committee report has failed to take on board several more objections to the Bill, especially regarding the extant provisions protecting the operator and suppliers from facing litigation and the ambiguities regarding nuclear accidents in defence installations and the jurisdiction of the AERB. It has also made an objectionable suggestion to create a liability fund to reduce government liability by levying additional charges on electricity.

The recommendations of the Standing Committee does not alter the fact that the intent behind the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, as well as its provisions, are meant to facilitate India's joining the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), which was explicitly committed by the UPA-I Government to the US in 2008, during the nuclear deal negotiations. Other than the US, no other country having a substantial number of nuclear plants have signed or ratified the CSC. None of India's neighbours who could be affected by a trans-boundary impact of a nuclear accident are signatories to CSC and its funds cannot be used for augmenting trans-border compensation for settlements. India gains nothing from joining the CSC.

Sd/-



Prakash Karat
A.B. Bardhan

Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Communist Party of India







Debabrata Biswas
Abani Roy

All India Forward Bloc
Revolutionary Socialist Party

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone


From: Sukla Sen <sukl...@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 19:32:48 +0530
Subject: National Forum | Nuclear Liability Bill: Underhand Deal Struck?

 

[Quote
Quoting from a newspaper report that no charges had been framed against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake shootout, the Left parties, along with the RJD and LJP alleged that the Congress and BJP had struck a deal over passing the nuclear liability bill.
Unquote]


Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day

2010-08-18 13:50:00

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day Wednesday over illegal mining and allegations that the government and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party had struck a deal over passing the contentious civil nuclear liability bill.

As soon as the house reasembled at 12 noon after its first adjournment, opposition members were on their feet, with the Bahujan Samaj Party demanding the dismissal of the Karnataka government over illegal mining and the Left parties, the RJD and the LJP alleging a deal between Congress and the BJP over the nuclear liability bill.

Quoting from a newspaper report that no charges had been framed against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake shootout, the Left parties, along with the RJD and LJP alleged that the Congress and BJP had struck a deal over passing the nuclear liability bill.

Amidst the din, Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan adjourned the house for the day, but not before the report of the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology on the nuclear bill was tabled in the house.

The report is believed to recommend that the liability cap on a nuclear plant's operator in case of an accident be tripled to Rs.1,500 crore from that provided in the bill.

Members from the RJD and the LJP later staged a protest in the parliament complex alleging that the government and the main opposition had unified.

'Congress and BJP are one. This is a deal to pass the nuclear liability bill,' LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan said.

'(Amit) Shah is in jail, how is it possible that he is involved and the chief minister did not know anything,' asked Ram Kripal Yadav of the RJD, referring to the arrest of the former Gujarat minister of state for home for his alleged role in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing.

Among the other changes recommended in the nuclear liability bill are a new clause making it clear that the bill will only apply to nuclear plants owned and operated by government, increasing the compensation claim period from 10 to 20 years and the setting up of a nuclear liability fund along the lines of a similar fund in the United States.

The government wants the bill to be passed in the current session of parliament that concludes Aug 31 so that the law is in place before the November visit of US president Barack Obama.

Source-Sifynews 18-08-2010

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