France seeks clarity on n-liability rules

New Delhi: With no signs of implementing the nuclear liability law, France has sought clarifications from India on the legislation that seeks to provide compensation to victims of a nuclear accident. Sources said France was waiting for India to complete the process involved and establish the legal framework for conducting nuclear business by foreign agencies. French nuclear experts, who were in India last month, had sought clarifications from the government on issues relating to the nuclear liability regime.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill was passed by Parliament in 2010 and the government notified the rules to implement the law last November. As per the procedure, the rules were placed before Parliament for examination before being referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation. In an rare move, amendments have been moved to the rules by Left parties who have reservations to certain sections that fix liability on the suppliers of nuclear equipment.

A vote on the amendments moved by the Left parties is expected to be taken up in Parliament during the second part of the Budget Session which begins on April 24. Even if the amendments are defeated in Parliament, the Rules will be referred to a Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation for examination. The Committee is chaired by CPI-M member P Karunakaran, who is keen to recommend the same changes to the government in his report on the Civil Nuclear Liability Rules.

The government has allocated the Jaitapur site in Maharashtra`s Ratnagiri district to Areva for building two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1650 MW each. Eventually, Areva is expected to build four more units of similar capacity. France conducted a safety review of EPRs after the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year and shared its findings with India in the month of January.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act fixes liability for nuclear damage and specifies procedures for compensating victims. On the enquiry into complaints of alleged wrongdoings in MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project under which final commercial negotiations are now being held to acquire 126 French Rafale fighters, the sources refused to comment. They said the negotiations on the deal have already started.