BJP makes clear stance on N-liability bill

New Delhi: Conceding that the country needed legislation on nuclear liability, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) struck a compromise with the ruling UPA coalition's Congress Party agreeing to support passage of such legislation provided it was re-drafted to make it ''India-specific.''

On Wednesday, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, agreed that ''such legislation is indeed needed, but it must be India-specific.'' She also stated that the party would accept the government's assurance that the country's nuclear sector would not be opened to private operators.

All along the BJP has been arguing, with much force and credibility, that the dodgy n-liability draft, sought to be pushed through Parliament, was designed to bring in private players as nuclear plant operators and limit their liability. It argued that if such was not the case then really there was no need for the bill.

In its initial drafts the government had capped liability at the first level at Rs500 crore. Faced with an uproar over what was perceived to be a grossly understated cap, given the magnitude of a nuclear disaster, the redrafted bill may now include a provision for ''unlimited liability''.

The new draft may also provide for claims to be administered entirely through a Claims Commissioner, instead of splitting up liability at two different levels.

''If the bill is re-drafted and shown to us, if it is India-specific, we can agree to it. We are not opposing the bill for the sake of opposing it; we do need such a law,'' Swaraj said.