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 told the news agency.
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.
M. V. 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 Rs1,500 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.