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Nuclear logjam: India, U.S. to work on new proposals

Revised insurance scheme to reduce suppliers’ risk

Indian and U.S. officials are expected to meet in Delhi next week to discuss two proposals made by India to clear the nuclear logjam, with an added push coming from U.S. President Obama’s impending visit on January 24.

TheHindu has learnt that the proposals were put forward during the first contact group meeting on civil nuclear issues held on December 16-17 that had been tasked by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi with finding a way around U.S. objections to India’s supplier liability law.

According to one official present at the meeting, India put up a revised proposal of an “insurance pool” using General Insurance Company (GIC) to alleviate the risk to U.S. suppliers. An earlier proposal had been made during the UPA government’s tenure in March 2014, but had been rejected. Officials say the new offer would include a pool of GIC, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United India, that would generate a risk cover of about $242 million.

A second proposal, that US officials have taken back to discuss with lawyers and representatives of American companies GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse, would entail a “clarification of Section 46” of the law that has been described as “vague” . At present, Section 46 says that nothing in the law will “exempt the operator from any proceeding which might, apart from the act, be instituted against the operator.” This has been read to mean that U.S. suppliers could face tort claims, that is, be sued by victims of an accident where the nuclear parts are deemed faulty. U.S. officials will bring both proposals back to Delhi next week.

An earlier proposal made during UPA’s tenure had been rejected

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