US for speedy passage of N-Liability Bill

Manmohan assures Obama that the legislation is going through democratic processes

“The president (Obama) did refer to the pending Civil Nuclear Liability Bill and expressed hope that this could be concluded as expeditiously as possible,” India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here on Monday.Rao was briefing journalists on the 50-minute talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama at the Blair House, the presidential guest house, on Sunday.

Manmohan Singh assured Obama that the legislation, the target of hostility from opposition parties in India, was going through the democratic processes.
Taking stock of the progress in implementing the landmark 2008 India-US civil nuclear deal, Manmohan Singh and Barack Obama “expressed their happiness” at the finalisation of an agreement on arrangements and procedures for reprocessing the US-origin spent fuel.

The Government had to defer the introduction of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill in Parliament on March 15 due to unrelenting Opposition from some political parties.
The bill seeks to limit the liability of a nuclear power plant operator at Rs 500 crore ($100 million) in case of an accident, sparking criticism that the government was putting a low price tag on human lives. Critics have also objected to what is seen as the government’s design to exempt suppliers of nuclear equipment by holding the operator exclusively liable in case of a nuclear accident.

The government has indicated its readiness to make some modifications in the legislation to appease the critics. The bill is now expected to be introduced in Parliament in the second part of the budget session starting on Thursday.

The passage of the legislation is among the last two remaining steps required to implement the nuclear deal. With a reprocessing pact out of the way, India is required to enact the liability legislation and give non-proliferation assurance to US nuclear companies.India will have to issue a “Declaration” or “Assurances” required by the US under the Code of Federal Regulations Part 810 to give licenses to American companies to work in India.Under the regulation 810, the recipient country has to undertake that it would not to explode a nuclear device, unless exempted, and not use the material received for military purposes.

PM invites Obama
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday invited US President Barack Obama to India, reports PTI from Washington . Singh said “the President had caught the imagination of millions around the world, including the people of India who were anxious to see him soon in our country,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters here.
“Our prime minister said: ‘We in India are looking forward eagerly to the visit of President and Mrs Obama to India later this year,” Rao said.

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