In the wake of NSA Shivshankar Menon's unsuccessful attempt to convince BJP top brass on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, sources said the party apprehends this may be an attempt to pave the way for entry of private operators in future.
"What is the need for such a legislation if the public sector and the government will be the only nuclear operators? What is the purpose of this law or of putting a cap on compensation if it is the government which has to pay?" a senior BJP MP said.
The BJP fears that once this Bill is passed the government may allow private players later by effecting an amendment only regarding entry of private operators while leaving the Rs 500 crore compensation cap and other provisions intact.
"We suspect this law is intended to bring in private players later," the BJP leader said.
When told about the UPA government's stand that for allowing private players an amendment would be required in the Atomic Energy Act, the BJP leader said his party was first interested in the present designs of the government and the other issues come later.
Menon had briefed Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Deputy leader of BJP in Upper House S S Ahluwalia and senior BJP leaders M M Joshi and Yashwant Sinha on the Bill on Wednesday.
The main opposition party also has problems with the government not fixing any liability of the foreign players in the Bill."Moreover, this law is in addition to the normal law as claimed by the government. In such a scenario, the victim would get some immediate compensation and for further compensation would have to go to a civil court. This would lead to multiplicity of legislation and delay in justice," said the senior BJP leader. He alleged the government was acting under international pressure.
Menon had earlier too held a meeting with Jaitley. This was followed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling up Swaraj to seek BJP support for the bill.When asked if there was a change in the BJP's stand after yesterday's meeting with Menon or whether he indicated a change in the government's stand since the first meeting with Jaitley, the senior BJP MP said, "The government is where it was and we are where we were." PTI