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Govt: Not diluting N-liability law 
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US, the government today asserted that there was no question of violating the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010 after it came under heavy Opposition fire over reports that a key provision of the law could be diluted to facilitate commercial contracts with potential American nuclear suppliers.

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) statement said the project would have to meet the highest standards of safety and the power generated would have to be competitive with other sources of nuclear as well as alternative forms of power. This would apply to India projects with all nuclear partners, including Russia, France and the US.

There have been clear suggestions that India’s nuclear partners have been upset with the Indian law, particularly the clause which states that in the event of damage caused by a plant, its operator can seek damages from the provider of the equipment.

When asked by the government for his opinion on this clause, Attorney General Gollam Vahanvati reportedly stated that it was for the operator of the plant to decide whether it should seek damages from the provider of the equipment.

The government clarified that foreign suppliers as well as domestic vendors had raised a number of queries with regard to the manner in which the Act and its associated rules would apply to their contracts. Since these queries involved questions of law, the DAE had sought the opinion of the Law and Justice Ministry of these issues. The opinion would be examined by the DAE and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which was negotiating the commercial contracts.

The NPCIL’s negotiations with Russia’s ASE for further reactors at Kudankulam were at an advanced stage while it had signed a preliminary agreement with France’s AREVA. The NPCIL was currently negotiating a preliminary contract with Westinghouse of the USA. The proposed contract was for a limited range of pre-project services. The NPCIL would enter into this preliminary contract with the approval of the Atomic Energy Commission and the government. This contract, if approved, would not bind NPCIL to enter into an agreement with Westinghouse for the supply of reactors without establishing safety and techno-commercial viability, the government added.

Seeking to play down the controversy, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State in the PMO V Narayansamy said the government would go by the law passed by Parliament. India would get energy on its own terms and conditions, they added.





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