Government Likely to Face Opposition Heat in Parliament on Nuke Issue

Published: 04th February 2015 12:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th February 2015 12:45 AM   |  A+A-


NEW DELHI:  Government is expected to face much flak from the Opposition in the Budget session of Parliament on the nuclear liability issue in the wake of the breakthrough on the Indo-US nuclear deal.            

An indication to this effect was given by Congress' senior spokesman Anand Sharma who said that the principal Opposition party has not yet been taken into confidence on the details arrived at during the just-concluded visit of US President Barack Obama.   

Opposition leaders have been saying that the government must inform Parliament about the assurances on the commercial component of the agreement it reached, the financial liability clause and the compensation part.

"We do not have the fine print of the assurances given as yet. They have kept it vague so far. Government has not shared the details and it must place them before Parliament," Sharma said.

He hinted that the Opposition party would pillory the BJP on the nuclear liability issue.

"Whether BJP likes it or not, the party and its leaders of the Opposition in Parliament at that time will have to share the credit or take the blame for bringing impediment in the operationalisation of the deal," he said.         

He insisted that the BJP leaders were squarely responsible for the provision 17(B) under the Nuclear Liability Act which came as an impediment in operationalising the deal.     Sharma, who is also the Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, said that whatever agreement government of India could have arrived at during talks with the US should be "within four corners of the Indian law".         

Reports had it that New Delhi has proposed setting up an insurance pool with a liability cap of Rs 1500 crore, half of which will come from the government of India.

The state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India would pay premiums to cover its liability. Suppliers would take out separate insurance against their secondary liability - which could not exceed that of the operator - at a "fraction" of the cost.         

An opposition leader said that this would mean that the Indian taxpayer would be forced to pay for the insurance.    

Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was now saying that the deal was in national interest, Sharma said it meant that the BJP had done 'huge dis-service' to the nation by attempting to topple the UPA-I government on the matter.            

Significant work remains on the fine print of a deal aimed at unlocking projects worth tens of billions of dollars that have been stuck the drawing board for years.      

US officials have said details of an insurance scheme to protect suppliers from crippling lawsuits need to be thrashed out and India still has to ratify a UN nuclear convention.     

India has 21 nuclear reactors with an installed capacity of 21,300 MW. It plans to launch construction of 40,000 MW of capacity in the next decade.    

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