Civil Nuclear Liability issue is well settled in India: Anil Kakodkar

Dr Anil Kakodkar, former chairperson of Atomic Energy Commission of India and Secretary to the Government of India, opines that the issue of Civil Nuclear Liability in the country is well settled with the setting up of the insurance pool. He further advised the foreign vendors to not to be perturbed by it and said the Indian law should be emulated by other countries as well.

“The Civil Nuclear Liability issue is resolved. Earlier I was opposed to the legislation, but now I think other countries should emulate it,” Dr Kakodkar told Nuclear Asia on the margin of the Nuclear Energy World Expo 2018 in Mumbai. He also had advice for the foreign vendors, who are complaining that the Indian law is not same as other countries. “Foreign vendors need to get out of this mind-set that it (the law) is not same as their law. But, who said it has to be the same?” he added.

The Government of India has set up Rs 1,500-crore nuclear insurance pool. It was put in place by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in June 2015 and set up by General Insurance Company and other insurance companies. It provides insurance coverage to operators and suppliers for any nuclear liability towards the third party under the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage Act, 2010.

“Protecting the citizens is the responsibility of the state. The Indian legislators have passed a law that has created an example by setting an insurance pool. And as far as responsibility is concerned, one cannot hold utility responsible for the fault of the vendors,” the former Indian nuclear chief said. Foreign vendors, not openly, but in informal gatherings have been raising the issue of the civil nuclear liability regime in India as a roadblock.

While the government has settled the issue of civil nuclear liability, the foreign vendors –he said in reference to Areva and Westinghouse – have “their own problems”. Dr. Kakodkar was one of the key members of the Indian government who oversaw negotiations of the path breaking civil nuclear cooperation with the US.

He lauded the Indian government for approving construction of 10 indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) in fleet mode. He insisted that the imported reactors also need to be built in fleet mode to keep up the momentum. “The Government has done its job. If the industry falters, it is to be blamed,” Dr. Kakodkar added.

India presently has 22 nuclear reactors operating across the country with a cumulative capacity of over 6,700 MW. The government has plans to increase it by 10 times by 2032.

Earlier, while inaugurating the conference, Dr Kakodkar also built up case for nuclear energy. He touched upon the competitiveness of solar energy and the sliding tariffs making things difficult for nuclear industry. “Solar energy has emerged as competitive with low tariffs, but the infrastructure costs are seldom taken into account….One has to understand, nuclear energy is the only energy available 24/7, 365 days, unlike other renewable resources that are intermittent,” said the nuclear scientist said. He further added that mix of nuclear and solar is perfect solution for Indian requirements.

The Solar Energy has been receiving huge subsidies from the government along with easy access to loans. Presently, Solar has an installed capacity of 20,000 MW and the government is aiming to increase it to 1,00,000 MW by 2022. To add to this solar power is priced at Rs 3 a unit as against the nuclear energy that is around Rs 5 a unit.