Liability issue looms over N-power dialogue on Modi US visit

  • PTI
  • Updated: Sep 25, 2014 14:53 IST

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to the US on his maiden trip to the country after assuming office, the visit is unlikely to bring any major breakthrough in the nuclear energy sector as the government is yet to find a solution to the liability issue.

Government sources said that apart from the Section 17(a), (b) and (c), US has raised queries over Clause 46 of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act, 2010, which could pose a new hindrance.

International as well as domestic suppliers are already wary of the Right to Recourse, but a leading domestic supplier recently also raised the issue of Clause 46. It said that insurance cover has to be taken for this clause along with Clause 17, which talks about Right to Recourse against the suppliers.

Section 46 of CLND Act says that, "The provisions of this Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other law for the time being in force, and nothing contained herein shall exempt the operator from any proceedings which might, apart from this Act, be instituted against such operator."

Sources also pointed out that it is not the first time that the US has drawn attention to the said clause, although India has not been able to resolve the issue.

"In India, any law that comes near Section 46 is the tort law. But it is unclear as to how much damage can be sought under this as the law is yet to be codified. The flip side is that the law is very stringent in the US, but not in India.

"At least, under the Right to Recourse, the insurance is limited to Rs 1500 crore, but in this case, it does not speak of any limit. More importantly, people as well as the judiciary have become more active and this may create an hindrance," said a senior government official.

To seek a solution to the liability issue, the Department of Atomic Energy and Ministry of Finance held a meeting and it was decided that the General Insurance Company should come up with an "insurance" product in this regard, but it is unlikely that a solution will be sought on the issue, sources added.

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