Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States, a controversy has broken out over the nuclear liability law with reports suggesting that an agreement will be signed which may not be in tune with the law.
The Cabinet committee on security will consider a proposal to sign an agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and the US-based operator Westinghouse Electric Company.
The US sees the Civil Liability for Nuclear Disaster Act as hurdle in selling nuclear reactors to India. The law allows NPCIL to seek partial compensation from suppliers if their reactors are involved in a nuclear accident.
But in an opinion to the department of atomic energy, Attorney General G E Vahanvati is learnt to have stated that it is up to the nuclear plant operator to invoke section 17 of the Act regarding liability of suppliers in case of a mishap.
The opinion will help New Delhi sign the contract. But the government sought to downplay the controversy saying that there will be no dilution on the issue and the interest of India will be protected.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said while India needs energy, it will get it at its "own terms and conditions." He said the two sides have their own points of view, the discussions should result in a "win-win" situation for both the sides.