Govt rules out any amendments in civil nuclear law

Government on Wednesday ruled out any amendments to the recently-enacted civil nuclear law to accommodate concerns of American companies on the issue of suppliers’ liability as a package during the coming visit of President Barack Obama to India next month.

“The question of amendments is never on the cards. We have explained to them (the US) the circumstances in which we had to go through (with) the bill and we have to work within the parameters of the legislation,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said at a breakfast meeting with editors here.

He said they (the US) also know in a parliamentary system of democracy the bill becomes the law of the land and they also understand it because they work with the U.S. Congress where legislations are made.

The minister was replying to questions on whether the government was planning amendments to the Civil Nuclear Liabilities law, which fixes stiff liabilities on suppliers in case of accidents, enacted during the monsoon of Parliament as a package to Mr. Obama during the visit.

U.S. companies wanting to do business with India in the civil nuclear sector had expressed concerns over the provisions in the law.

Krishna said in the course of discussions with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his recent visit India had provided them with “enough reasons” for enacting the legislation “so that they can understand the Indian position“.

He said the civil nuclear accord was done during President George W Bush’s time and the present Administration including Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton were “very anxious” that the two countries continued to work as partners.

“This will come up for discussions between Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” he said.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who was also present, said India has told the U.S. very clearly that it will create a level-playing field for all companies, including those from the US.

“We were able to clarify doubts about a couple of aspects in the Bill which will be discussed between the companies and the (government-owned) Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.

“We are not talking of amendments to the Bill, certainly not. There is no question of amending the Bill. I don’t think you can try to conclude that we are trying to fix something outside the bill. The intention is to involve in discussions with them and not to amend the bill. It has been made clear to the US Administration,” she said.

On the visit itself, Krishna said bilateral, global and issues of the region will be discussed between the Prime Minister and President during visit which he described as one of the most important visits from India’s point of view.

He said during his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly session recently he had met Obama during a reception he (President) had hosted for the Foreign Ministers.

“He (Obama) told me he was indeed looking forward to the visit to India. I mentioned to him how India was also eagerly looking forward to the visit,” he said.

Krishna told the questioner that he cannot “quantify” the engagement between the two countries during the visit as it all depended on the number of issues including developments in the neighbourhood.

“We have a strategic partnership and hope this will get strengthened during the visit,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2021 6:27:14 PM |

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