Government on Wednesday said it had no plans right now to seek foreign investment in the atomic power sector, rejecting opposition contention that it was rushing through with the nuclear liability bill with an eye on overseas funds.
“There is no policy to allow FDI in the nuclear sector,” Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, adding that words like investments and procurements were being used very loosely in the debate on the liability bill.
Speaking at a conference organised by Assocham, Chavan said there was no question of American companies setting up nuclear reactors in India as the law does not permit the same.
He said the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1962 does not allow any private operator to produce nuclear energy and the government has “no intention right now” of amending the law to seek foreign investment.
However, he said the government was considering amendments to the AEA to make regulatory bodies autonomous and also to make it compliant with certain international conventions.
Asked to react to reported demands from the opposition to call for an all-party meeting on the issue, Chavan said that the government was ready for discussion on any fora be it the Standing Committee, Parliament or even discussion with individual parties.
Chavan made it clear that State-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited would be buying equipment from suppliers in America, Russia and France and there was no question of seeking any investments from them.
“It is purely a buyer-supplier relationship. We are not seeking investments,” he said.
On opposition contention that the proposed bill violates the Constitution, Chavan said the issues could be “coolly” discussed either in Parliament or in the standing committee.
“I think there is a lot of scare being created by certain political parties, particularly by our Left friends.
The moment the issue of any likely foreign participation comes up there is a red flag.
“I think these issues could be coolly discussed either in Parliament or in standing committee or we are willing to discuss it in personal meeting,” he said.
However, if the opposition is political it was a different matter, he said, adding “then we have to take it further“.
On demands of increasing the compensation amount by the operator, Chavan said all these issues can be discussed at various fora or even personal meetings.
“Let us begin somewhere and not be obstructionist,” he said.
Chavan said that issues like increasing compensation for private players could be looked at when the government decides to allow private participation in the nuclear sector.