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PM may brief Obama on N-liability rules
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

PM Manmohan Singh being welcomed on his arrival in Bali, Indonesia, on Thursday.
PM Manmohan Singh being welcomed on his arrival in Bali, Indonesia, on Thursday. — PTI

New Delhi, November 17
The rules on civil nuclear liability which have been notified by the UPA government may figure during the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama tomorrow in Bali on the margins of the ASEAN and East Asia summits.

Even as the Left parties opposed the rules saying they were meant to appease the US corporates, government sources asserted that they were notified after considering all possible scenarios and taking into account the best interests of the nation.

The notification of rules for conduct of nuclear business should address concerns that any foreign company could have on the issue of liability being unlimited or unending, they added.

Among other things, the rules provide for the nuclear plant operator the right to recourse for the period for which the supplier of equipment has taken liability for patent or latent defects or sub-standard under a contract.

According to the rules, an operator’s claim will in no case exceed the actual amount of compensation paid by him up to the date of filing such claim.

The US has time and again stated that India’s Civil Nuclear Liability Law must be brought in conformity with international conventions and that the current regime imposed a heavy burden on nuclear plants operators in India. However, New Delhi has made it clear that there was no question of amending the law since it has been passed by Parliament. Moreover, India also has to take into account the sentiments in the country in the wake of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan in March and the ongoing protests against the Kudankulam nuclear facility in Tamil Nadu.

The Americans have also made some other suggestions, including one that the IAEA examine if the Indian law was in conformity with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Safety. New Delhi, which is yet to sign the CSC, is, however, not enthused by this proposal either.

The most contentious part of the legislation , under which ordinary citizens have the right to sue suppliers for any amount and any time after an accident, has, however, not been touched, which may again become a sticking point between the two countries. This concern of the US nuclear companies had been conveyed to India by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she visited India in July.

Asked if there was no scope for further amendments if the rules were not acceptable to the US firms, the sources did not give a straight reply but pointed out that many foreign companies were already doing nuclear business in India without any problem within the ambit of existing laws.

They wondered why any new player should find it difficult to enter the huge Indian nuclear market.

The CPM, meanwhile, accused the government of diluting the provisions of liability for foreign suppliers. “The rules notified under the Civil Nuclear Liability Act have diluted the provisions of liability for the foreign suppliers,” the CPM Politbureau said in a statement here.

Asean meet: manmohan reaches bali

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday arrived in Bali on a three-day visit with an aim of deepening India’s ties with East Asia at a time when the US and Europe are facing economic crisis. Manmohan Singh will attend the India-ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit with a focus on enhancing trade and investment, connectivity and capacity-building besides discussing security issues. In the second leg of the two-nation tour, Singh will travel to Singapore on a bilateral visit. "Partnership with ASEAN is an essential component of our 'Look East' policy," the PM said in his departure statement in New Delhi. — PTI





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