The government on Friday sought to distance itself from the note circulated at a parliamentary standing committee meeting on the Nuclear Liability Bill, saying the political authority had given no sanction for the proposal which provided for dilution of a key clause.

After attack from the BJP and the Left parties on the move, which was later withdrawn, Minister for State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan said amendments to the Bill could be undertaken only after Cabinet approval.

“ ... amendments can be accepted only by the government, that is the Cabinet. No decision can be taken without consulting the government,” he said replying to a question during a discussion with women journalists here.

Terming it an “unfortunate development,” Mr. Chavan said, “this [the note] has no official sanction of the political authority.”

On June 8, Department of Atomic Energy Secretary Srikumar Banerjee circulated the note at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, which provided for deletion of clause 17(b). This clause proposes that the nuclear plant operator will have legal recourse if a nuclear accident results from a “wilful act or gross negligence on the part of the supplier of the material, equipment or services or of his employee.”

In the face of stiff opposition from the BJP and the Left, Dr. Banerjee withdrew the note at the next meeting of the committee on June 15 while expressing regret for moving it.

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