It is alarming to see the stealthy manner in which the UPA government has been changing the key clauses in the draft civil nuclear liability bill. First, it tried to cap operator liability at Rs. 500 crore, but thanks to media pressure and protests by the Opposition, it raised the cap to Rs.1,500 crore. It then inserted the word “and” between Clause 17 (a) and 17 (b) of the bill. Again, a vigilant media and the Opposition ensured the removal of the offending conjunction. Now, the government has changed the wording to ensure that foreign suppliers are free from any liability unless it is proved that a supplier intentionally caused the accident. Why is the government playing with the lives of future generations?
The Congress statement that the government is open to the broadest political consensus on the nuclear liability bill is reassuring. But one wonders why it is trying to protect suppliers at the cost of our welfare.
The Hindu's superb coverage of the issue has made us aware of the repeated attempts by the government to let the foreign suppliers off the hook. Only a month ago, tears were being shed for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The government, it appears, is prepared for an even bigger tragedy.
I am baffled at the deceitful manner in which the government is bent on getting the civil nuclear liability bill passed. Why is it trying to protect the interest of the suppliers to the detriment of its people? Is it only about arm-twisting by the U.S., or is there something more to it?