Mumbai: India is in talks with four
companies from France, Japan and Russia for supplying
equipment for reactors to be constructed after the civil
nuclear liability bill comes into force, Minister for Science
and Technology Prithviraj Chavan today said.
The involvement of foreign suppliers in the country`s
peaceful nuclear programme notwithstanding, 60 to 70 per cent
of the supplies would be made by Indian companies, Chavan
said, trashing accusations by those opposed to the legislation
that it was aimed at "pleasing" the Americans.
Chavan, also the Minister of State in the Prime
Minister`s Office, said talks were underway with French
company Areva, US-Japanese firm GE Hitachi, Japanese company
Westing House and a Russian firm.
"There will be about 60 to 70 per cent Indian
suppliers. Hence, it is wrong to presume that the bill was
passed to please US President Barack Obama before his visit to
India in November and serve the interests of the American
companies," Chavan told members of the trade and industry at
the Indian Merchants Chamber.
Noting that five top legal firms were advising the
government in drafting necessary rules, the minister said all
equipment will be purchased through the Nuclear Power
Corporation of India limited or a joint venture led by NPCIL.
He said the equipment from foreign vendors will be
taken only after the design was approved by Atomic Energy
Regulatory Board (AERB).
Chavan said no private sector players including
foreign companies will operate the reactors. "They will only
be equipment suppliers and we have no problem if they have
only minority stakes in setting up reactors."
Maintaining that nuclear power reactors were safe and
no major accident had occurred in the last 25 years, Chavan
said the government still did not want to take any chances and
so the need for a legislation to deal with civil liability in
the event of a nuclear mishap.
Chavan described the nuclear liability bill as a
landmark legislation which will unlock business opportunities
in the country`s energy expansion programme.
Referring to circumstances in which the bill was
passed despite the UPA not having a majority in the Rajya
Sabha, he said the passage of the civil nuclear liability bill
provided a template that consensus decisions could be arrived
at by taking on board one and all.
"Our current installed capacity is 1,64,000 MW and by
2030 we intend to quadruple it. Of this the share of nuclear
power, which has zero carbon footprint, is just 2.4 per cent"
"like nuclear power, hydro and solar energy also have
zero carbon footprint. We have to think about carbon taxation
in view of the global concerns about climate change and green
house emissions," the minister said, but added that coal-based
power could not be done away with in the near future.