Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Left, BJP - both are correct on Nuclear Liability Bill?

Imagine an American nuclear supplier is operating a nuclear plant and there is a leakage and it spreads everywhere killing hundreds of people and paralyzing generations after that. Imagine the radiation bringing infertility to women. Imagine in such situations, these suppliers go scot-free and no compensation is given by them. All that the govt has to do is pay and eventually because of corruption the money never reaches the victims. More so, these companies can't be tried by the court. This is exactly going to happen if PM Manmohan Singh passes this legislation in India. We will be digging our own grave. Manmohan Singh would be creating the 3rd biggest foreign policy mistake ever (The first two done by Nehru regards to Kashmir and China). INDIAN LIFE IS NO CHEAPER THAN AMERICAN ONE !!!!!

India does not have a law that can try any such companies (national or international) in courts in case of an incident like Bhopal Gas tragedy.
The below clause was added and then American nuclear suppliers were upset that they can be subjected to Indian lawsuits and thereby pressurized Manmohan Singh to remove it. This infuriated both the LEFT and the BJP. Their contention was simple. If Bhopal Gas Tragedy doesn't open the eyes of the Govt, what else will?

Section 17(b) allows nuclear operators, who are otherwise strictly and absolutely liable for any nuclear accident, to exercise a ‘right of recourse' against their suppliers if the latter have been grossly negligent in any way. And Section 46 clarifies there will be no derogation from existing Indian laws on criminal and tort liability for any company whose negligence along any part of the nuclear supply chain might be responsible for an accident. Both of these provisions, U.S. nuclear industry sources say, would expose American suppliers to law suits in India.

2 major objections to the draft which is drafted only to please American companies:
1) Compensation amount:

Nuclear radiation is even deadlier than the Iso Cyanide Gas that killed lakhs of people. For such deadly radiation effects, the liability cap is Rs. 500 Crore, which is peanuts. While the same suppliers liability would be in billions in the US, they want to sell the risk at a low premium. Any charges beyond Rs. 500 Crore up to Rs.2133 Crore will be borne by the Indian Govt - which means taxpayer money used for a fault of an external operator? Such an enormous amount is neither in the capacity of the Govt (unless they use taxpayers money) nor will the money reach the victims ever in the case of an unfortunate incident.

The government is convincing everyone by saying that there is a civil and criminal liability amount which is not capped at Rs.500 Crore but will apply later, if required. This won't happen as the case that would be presented would be that Rs.500 Crore is the settlement amount these companies will give and escape.

The claims period is 10 years. Any claims made beyond this period is invalid. Can't the govt have a clause that one can claim only if sufficient evidence is provided...but no, Govt won't do it.
The LEFT VIEW IS clearly stated in the article

Their view point is absolutely correct. While the US puts a cap of $10-12 billion, why India gets only Rs. 500 Crore?

2) No easy way of putting the companies to court in case of an unfortunate leakage/radiation:

This article (click here) clearly shows that these American suppliers will wash their hands off when gross negligence is caused by them and the Indian Govt will have to bear the liability charges and no way they can be subjected to Indian courts.

BJP's point of view in addition to compensation amount is that while FDI is not allowed for foreign players to enter into India, why not add the clause that only Indian public sector companies operate in India so that private American players have no role to play.

Another good article to read why BJP and the Left are opposed to the Bill is this (Click)

People should remember that a few days ago there was radiation scrap found in Delhi Univ outskirts and it killed one person and the hospitals and the doctors were not equipped to deal with such a mess.

So, the government should think twice before falling to the trap of the corporates.

To understand more, watch the videos


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