New Delhi: Areva SA is seeking further clarity from India on its nuclear liability law before the French company can move ahead with its plan to build the South Asian nation’s biggest nuclear plant.

The Indian government has “taken some measures to address concerns of suppliers," Manju Gupta, president of Areva India Pvt. said in an interview in Mumbai. “However, details are yet to come out. We don’t have clarity on how these concerns will be addressed and how it will translate into economic and legal impact."

India’s efforts to boost its nuclear power capacity more than 10-fold by 2032 have been stymied by rules that leave suppliers liable for accidents, and resolving the issue is key to equipment makers. General Electric Co. won’t risk building a nuclear plant in the country, Chairman Jeffrey Immelt told reporters in India last month, citing the liability issues.

Areva signed an accord in 2009 to build six 1,650-megawatt reactors at Jaitapur, a coastal town in India’s western province of Maharashtra. The country’s liability law, enacted a year later and more sweeping than a global agreement signed by 80 nations, is a legacy of the 1984 Union Carbide chemical accident at Bhopal that killed more than 10,000 people. Areva’s plans have also been opposed by local mango farmers and fishermen, their fears stoked further by the 2011 reactor melt-downs at Fukushima in Japan.

As part of an agreement with the US in January, India pledged to create a 15 billion insurance pool to shield plant operators as well as the equipment suppliers against damages during an accident. That will form the basis for a detailed commercial contract between reactor suppliers and the nation’s nuclear power producer, Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd.

“We find that the government has taken steps and they have laid out some principles," Gupta said. “We will work within the four walls of the Indian law which defines the civil nuclear liability regime." Bloomberg

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