`Indian firms to be hit hard by N-liability law`

Last Updated: Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 15:29

Mumbai: Former Atomic Energy Commission
chairman Anil Kakodkar on Sunday said the domestic nuclear
industry will be hit hard in the longer run due to certain
provisions of the nuclear liability law, which also has
French, Russian and US companies worried.

However, Kakodkar feels that the Civil Liability for
Nuclear Damage law, passed after much debate in Parliament in
August, is soft on foreign prime vendors.

"Now that Act has been passed in our Parliament, every
one has to accept it and move forward but at the same time the
language in Clause 17(b) is likely to be hard on Indian
entities and soft on foreign prime vendors," he said.

Three key suppliers of nuclear equipment -- France,
Russia and the US -- have already voiced their concerns over
the liability law in its current form and have said that they
are awaiting notification of rules for implementing the key
legislation.

"The language used creates more problems for suppliers of
equipment or materials most of whom are likely to be Indian
companies at least eventually," Kakodkar said.

"As far as prime vendors are concerned, they operate at
the system level where comprehensive mutual discussions take
place between the vendor and the utility (including detailed
reviews by the regulatory body) over months/years," he said.

"At the system level, once the two sides decide to work
together (which they have to), it would be difficult to
isolate `act of supplier or his employee` for purpose of
exercising the right of recourse except when there is a case
of `wilful act or gross negligence`," Kakodkar said.

MV Kotwal, senior vice-president of Larsen and Toubro,
an active domestic player in the nuclear sector, said the
concerns of the industry remain the same as a week before the
bill was passed in the Parliament.

"Indian industry do not know how the Government of India
will help regarding the language of Clause 17(b) so that they
can confidently move to towards an ambitious nuclear power
programme in the country with the foreign collaboration,"
Kotwal said on the sidelines of conference on Advances in
Nuclear Technology which concluded on Friday.

On the issue of insurance, Kakodkar said it was unlikely
that an Indian insurance company will be able to insure for Rs
1,500 crores, as stated in the law, without involving foreign
entities who insist on inspection.

"The alternative is to lock up the necessary funds which
would not be available for investment into new power
projects," he said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 15:29

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