They are working on formula which will waive liability clause for Kudankulam Units 3 and 4

India and Russia are on the way to clinching breakthrough deals in energy, investment and civil aviation, which will take bilateral cooperation to new heights.

The two countries have moved closer to clearing the nuclear liability hurdle to a contract for supply of Russian reactors for Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), sources in the Indian delegation told The Hindu after an annual meeting of the Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission (IRIGC) on trade, economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation here on Friday.

The two sides were looking for a formula that would “reconcile the Indian law [which holds suppliers of nuclear power equipment responsible for accidents] with international law,” which placed the responsibility on the operator, the sources said. The formula would essentially waive the liability clause for Units 3 and 4 but should not set a precedent for the United States and France to seek similar exceptions.

There were “hopes” the contract for setting up two more reactors in the KNPP might be signed during this month’s annual summit here between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Vladimir Putin.

Addressing the media after the 19th session of the IRICG, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the two sides had reached “important arrangements in very many areas of collaboration” including “peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

Pipeline

In another decision, the two countries agreed to set up a joint study group for an oil pipeline from Russia to India across the former Soviet Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. “It’s going to be a very big idea for the next 10 years,” sources in the Indian delegation said. The proposed pipeline would not necessarily be part of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India project that was also being planned, though it might run parallel to it, the sources said.

India and Russia also finalised a “programme of cooperation” in oil and gas on the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia, the Indian sources said.

The IRIGC meeting has prepared the ground for large-scale investment deals, as Russia showed “serious interest” in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, India’s mega infrastructure project.

A newly formed working group on investment, which met in Moscow on Thursday, drafted a list of a dozen joint projects. It has been planned to build a joint helicopter design centre in India and look into joint production of passenger aircraft. “We have done everything to make the Russian-Indian summit on October 21 a big success,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who co-chaired the IRIGC session with Mr. Khurshid.

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