News / Asia

India’s Nuclear Liability Law Slows Power Plant Rollouts

FILE - A man stands with his son on the beach near the Kudankulam nuclear power project in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
FILE - A man stands with his son on the beach near the Kudankulam nuclear power project in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Anjana Pasricha
In India, a Russian-built nuclear power station has begun generating power, raising hopes that it will ease energy shortages in the south. But the country’s ambitious plans to ramp up its nuclear power capacity are not panning out as expected.

The Kudankulam nuclear plant in southern Tamil Nadu state went online Tuesday by transmitting 160 megawatts of power to the local grid. In the coming weeks it will gradually be scaled up to its full capacity of 1000 megawatts to light up homes and industries.

However, hopes of boosting Kudankulam’s capacity even further suffered a setback this month during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Moscow.

Proponents hoped he would sign a deal to purchase two new nuclear reactors, each 1000 megawatts. But negotiations are stuck due to the strict civil nuclear liability law that India adopted in 2010 under pressure from the opposition and activists.

Foreign suppliers worry that this law disproportionately burdens sellers of nuclear technology with compensation payments in the case of an accident. They say India’s liability law is not consistent with international nuclear policies.

Despite the delay, Indian officials sound optimistic about getting the reactors from Russia and say they hope to iron out the differences in the coming months.

G. Balachandran at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis says India has tried to address some of the concerns by putting a cap on the liability of foreign suppliers in the event of a nuclear mishap.     

“When they [India] formulated the rules, they limited it to a five year period during which the right of recourse can be exercised. Not indefinite. They said it is not for unlimited amount. So they will be limited to a liability of 250 million dollars for a period of only five years,” said G. Balachandran.

India has long hoped that nuclear power is the answer to its energy woes. The landmark agreement New Delhi struck with the United States in 2008 lifted a three decade long ban on nuclear trade. The deal was expected to lead to investment of nearly $150 billion in India’s nuclear energy sector from countries like Russia, France and the United States.

But so far there has been little progress. Last month, India signed a preliminary contract with U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. to purchase nuclear reactors.

Many analysts blame the liability law for slowing negotiations. Balachandran says foreign suppliers fear that other countries could cite India’s precedent to seek similar guarantees.

“That is the only small impediment I can see in the way of foreign companies saying I don’t want this to become a universal norm. Because that is true, all the other countries have passed a law which does not have right of recourse,” said Balachandran.   

The slowdown in the nuclear sector is a setback for a country which had hoped to scale up nuclear power from less than 5,000 megawatts 63,000 megawatts in 20 years to close the huge gap in its energy needs.  

There are other problems besides the liability law. Concerns have been growing among local communities about nuclear power safety in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The Kudankulam nuclear project was repeatedly delayed due to protests by villagers living in the plant’s vicinity. The plant only came online after India’s Supreme Court ruled this May that the plant was safe and necessary for the country’s economic growth.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid