"Attempt to dilute the Civil Nuclear Liability Act to exempt US suppliers of reactors from the liability clause will be an illegal attempt to bypass the law passed by Parliament", says Prakash Karat

The Left parties on Thursday warned the government that it would commit an “illegal act” if it tried to dilute the Civil Nuclear Liability Act or signed any agreement for supply of nuclear reactors during the upcoming US visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“If the government wants to succumb to US pressures (to clinch a deal), I am afraid they will be shown as having done an illegal act which will be against the interests of the country,” CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here.

“The effort of the Manmohan Singh government to dilute the Civil Nuclear Liability Act to exempt US suppliers of reactors from the liability clause will be an illegal attempt to bypass the law passed by Parliament,” he said, adding, “The Americans want to sell the reactors on their terms but they will have to abide by the laws of this country...”

Mr. Karat was reacting to reports that government was moving to clear a deal to acquire nuclear reactors from US major Westinghouse Corp and sign an agreement during Singh’s visit.

Asserting that no one could bypass the law laid down by Parliament — the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010 — Mr. Karat said, “We know they (Government) tried to dilute the law but the Standing Committee rejected it.”

“It is evident that the UPA government is succumbing to the pressure of the US administration to safeguard their companies’ interests. But this cannot be at the expense of the interests of the country and the safety and security of Indian citizens,” the CPI (M) Polit Bureau later said in a statement.

CPI national secretary D Raja accused the government of becoming “a real suspect” on the nuclear deal and liability issues, saying, “The government is consciously going ahead to satisfy the US and dilute the laid-down law and now that has been exposed.”

Maintaining that the opinion of the Attorney General on the matter was “an interpretation of the law which does not hold”, Mr. Karat referred to Section 17 of the Nuclear Liability Act and said, “Irrespective of the written contract, the right to recourse and the liability of the supplier will apply if there is supply of faulty material or equipment.”

The section deals with right to legal recourse against the supplier or the manufacturer in case of a nuclear accident, faulty equipment or wilful neglect.

In his reaction, Mr. Raja sought a clarification from the Prime Minister on the issue, saying “he took the risk of Left support withdrawal” to sign the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The CPI leader said linking the accord with Russia on the Kudankulam nuclear power plant with the proposed deal with the US firm Westinghouse “is itself a manipulative move as the Kudankulam deal was struck much before the Liability Act was passed by Parliament.”

Demanding stoppage of any move towards an agreement with the US firm, Mr. Raja said the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited “cannot enter into any agreement bypassing the law passed by Parliament.”

More In: National | News