Clearing the liability hurdle with Russia, the government is keen to sign the long-pending agreement for Unit III and IV of Kudankulam nuclear plant before its term ends in May and is planning to approach the Election Commission for clearance. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) recently gave financial clearance for the two units, sources said.
They said the government is keen to sign the agreement at the earliest and is planning to approach EC for clearance as the Model Code of Conduct is in force ahead of Lok Sabha elections. "We already have the Cabinet's approval which gives us a go-ahead to sign the agreement," said a senior Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) official.
The UPA government wants the agreement to be signed in its tenure as it would be considered as an achievement. More importantly, Unit I of KNPP was completed and commissioned in UPA's tenure while the second unit should be operational this year.
Officials said that the major impediments in signing the deal with the Russians were few clauses of the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damages Act (CLND), 2010, and differences over these have been settled now. The liability clause gives the operator (NPCIL) the right to recourse and seeks damage from the supplier, which in this case are the Russians. It also demanded that India should not bring Unit III and IV under the CLND Act's ambit as the original agreement of nuclear cooperation between India and Russia was signed way before the law came into existence.
This was one of the reasons why the deal could not be signed between India and Russia when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited that country in October last year.