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
Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan
Monday moved in the upper house the bill that the Lok Sabha approved
"Let's wait for the nuclear option for some years. Invest towards
empowering disempowered people and then move to the nuclear option,"
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