PM seeks legal view on Russia`s demand for waiver on N-plants

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought legal opinion on the issue as any waiver could lead to more such demands.

Updated: Aug 03, 2012, 20:45 PM IST

New Delhi: With Russia seeking exemption from Nuclear Liability Law for Kudankulam nuclear plants 3 and 4, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought legal opinion on the issue as any waiver could lead to more such demands.

Singh, who is the Minister incharge of the Department of Atomic Energy, has asked the Law Ministry whether the two new units to be constructed by Russia at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu can be kept out of the purview of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act passed by Parliament in 2010.

The Law Ministry is set to refer the matter to Attorney General G E Vahanvati considering the apprehension that if waiver is granted to Russia, similar demands could come from other countries.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R K Sinha told PTI that the Prime Minister has sought a legal opinion on whether a waiver could be granted for Kudankulam 3&4 from the liability law under which an operator will have to pay Rs 15,000 crore upfront compensation in case of a mishap.

The query comes against the backdrop of Russia seeking exemption to units 3 and 4, arguing that these were "extensions" of the old project which pre-dated the liability regime.

"We understand that if you want same terms of credit, we get same terms of conditions....It would be logical... Nuclear liability is a latter invention," Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin had said sometime back.

Sinha noted that the inter-governmental agreement for setting up nuclear plants at Kudankulam was signed before the nuclear liability act was passed.
"This is part of a consultation process. The Cabinet will take a final view based on the legal opinion," Sinha said.

The DAE has also sought to know whether a waiver from the
liability law to Russia would have any implication on the similar agreements India has signed with other countries such as France and the US.

India had signed agreements with France and the US for setting up nuclear power plants in the country. An offer made by South Korea to set up nuclear power plants in India is also under examination.

The nuclear liability law gives the operator of a nuclear plant the right to demand compensation from a supplier in case a faulty equipment leads to a mishap.

The first two units of Kudankulam of 1000 mw each are expected to be commissioned soon after a considerable delay due to protests by locals against it.