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Updated: September 20, 2013 04:27 IST

There will be no dilution of nuclear liability law, says govt.

Sandeep Dikshit
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Anti-nuclear activists during a protest against Kudankulam nuclear power project, in Bangalore. File photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu
Anti-nuclear activists during a protest against Kudankulam nuclear power project, in Bangalore. File photo: K. Murali Kumar

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said the government will not sign any nuclear contract with the U.S. that was against national interest.

Reacting to a report in The Hindu about the Attorney General’s recent opinion that Indian nuclear operators could waive their right of recourse against a foreign supplier in the event that an accident is caused by faulty equipment, he said, “Laws are framed by Parliament and nobody can overrule it. This is impossible. The government will act according to the law of the land and not take any decision which is against the nation’s interest.”

Speaking separately on background, senior officials insisted that there will be no dilution of Section 17(b) of Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (which penalises foreign suppliers if an accident is traced back to faulty products or services).

On its part, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), whose queries on points of law regarding the applicability of the right of recourse prompted the AG’s opinion, issued a statement that all commercial contracts between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and foreign suppliers will be consistent with Indian law and that there was no question of the law being violated or diluted.

The officials said the DAE’s reference to the AG had nothing to do with the NPCIL-Westinghouse ‘pre-early works agreement’ likely to be signed next week.

“In fact, we have not talked about the liability issue with the Americans for over a year. The reference to the AG arose in the context of continuing negotiations with the French and the Russians,” a senior official said on background.

The assumption drawn from the AG’s opinion that this was done to cater to American wishes is “far from the truth,” he observed. “Whether you include the right of recourse in a contract or not is your choice under the law,” another senior official told The Hindu, adding, “The government has taken a decision, and we have told the DAE it has to be put it in.”

The DAE and government sources also weighed in on NPCIL’s move to give Westinghouse a token sum — said to be around Rs. 300 crores — when signing a contract in Washington later this month. The DAE said the payment would be for a limited range of pre-project services and would not bind NPCIL into a contract with the company for the entire project “without establishing safety and techno-commercial viability.”

The sources said the payment would be like a “small amount to the architect” but it doesn’t mean the house building contract will also be awarded to him. And NPCIL is well within its rights to make the payment without seeking Cabinet Committee on Security clearance, he said.

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These politicians have become great liability for the nation and especially UPA politicians are a greater liability. They will sell anything including souls to get money in their pockets.

from:  Honga Singh
Posted on: Sep 20, 2013 at 08:26 IST

I don't believe this Government. They will say something in public
and sign some thing away from public. How can an Indian operator
choose to either have or not clause 17b of the nuclear liability act
passed by parliament at the cost of Nation's security and safety.
Going by your report on AG's opinion, this Govt. is going to do
something which may prove ultimately disastrous for the people of
India. Letting any company or supplier off the hook for faulty design
or supply is not acceptable as this will encourage them to thrust
their still in the offing technology with India as a testing ground.
Request Govt. to reconsider their decision if already made as reported
in these columns.

from:  kasthuri rangan
Posted on: Sep 19, 2013 at 23:36 IST

I was watching the debate on the national TV channels and supporters
of the UPA were arguing that we need investment from foreign countries
in nuclear field. The way discussion was that those who oppose what Dr
Manmohan Singh is trying to do are opposed to get nuclear investments.
We need nuclear investments but not at the cost of Indian citizens
life and security. If the foreign nuclear entities are so good and
they are confident that there nuclear reactors are good and without
any defects, then why can not they agree to liability aspects. Why
doesn't this UPA government learn any lessons from its fiascos.

from:  K C S Reddy
Posted on: Sep 19, 2013 at 22:34 IST

It's an unnecessary act by the government to please the U.S
government.Nuclear liability law itself is a controversial thing.Water
requirement for nuclear plants is large than any other industry which
will reflect in several Eco-system and agriculture based issues.The
government should focus on increase power production using renewable
energy source(not only solar cell).Scientists do come up with plans like
"RIEP: Regional integrated energy plan" by Prof.T.V. Ramachandra, IISC
which the Govt. has to implement.

from:  Pradheep
Posted on: Sep 19, 2013 at 22:20 IST
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