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Rethink n-liability bill, Left urges government

Monday, August 30, 2010 08:00:14 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The government should "rethink" the nuclear liability bill and India should wait for some years before making the "transition" to greater use of nuclear energy, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)) leader Sitaram Yechury said Monday.

"Please have a rethink. Let there be a floor, not ceiling (on liability for operators in case of a nuclear accident)," Yechury said during the discussion on the civil nuclear liability bill in Rajya Sabha.

Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan Monday moved in the upper house the bill that the Lok Sabha approved Aug 25.

"Let's wait for the nuclear option for some years. Invest towards empowering disempowered people and then move to the nuclear option," Yechury said.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was present in the house, Yechury noted that it was perhaps after a long time that he had not gone on a foreign trip during a parliament session. "We are rejuvenated by his presence," Yechury said.

The Left leader also noted that the prime minister had chosen only the debate on the nuclear liability bill for his intervention, even though the house had held important discussions on the Bhopal gas disaster and price rise.

He asked whether all the conditions for going ahead with the India-US civilian nuclear deal, as mentioned by the prime minister in parliament, had been met.

"The prime minister had said that the country seeks removal of prescriptions and will proceed with the (India-US) nuclear deal if it is assured of complete nuclear supply, as well as other aspects like including reprocessing. As far as my reading goes, that has not been fulfilled," Yechury said.

He also pointed out that there much greater investment was required for nuclear energy and this money could be used to fuel other aspects of development.

"To realize 40,000 megawatts of nuclear production, the cost will be Rs 3 lakh crore, which can be used for building 20,000 hundred bed hospitals or two lakh Navodyay schools," he said.

Communist Party of India MP D. Raja was also against a cap on the operator's liability. "The amount (of liability) is too low. It must be raised substantially. The liability of a supplier must also include the cost of the plant," he said.

The nuclear liability bill has tripled the cap on operators in case of an accident to Rs.1,500 crore ($320 million) from the earlier Rs.500 crore.





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