France puts forward new proposal to India

12 July 2016

France has put forward a new technical­ commercial proposal to construct six reactors at India’s Jaitapur site, but has also again raised concerns over India's civil liability law. An Electricite de France (EDF) team in talks with the India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is reportedly seeking the "same level of protection" which is available to companies at the international level, according to the Economic Times.

"We have raised our concerns over the liability issue. France is a party to Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. We want similar binding conditions in the Jaitapur contract. "All these steps will help us bring nuclear industry players from France to India. The delegation has asked for the same level of protection for the EDF which is available at the international level," a top EDF official told PTI.

The official also said EDF’s new proposal to NPCIL for six reactors as against two, which was the case earlier, to help bring down the cost. EDF is also offering localisation of technology to make the project cost effective. EDF has raised concern over various clauses dealing with the Right to Recourse under India’s 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, while acknowledging that the Indian government has taken several steps to answer those concerns through initiatives such as formation of a Nuclear Insurance Pool. In February, in a significant move aimed at putting an end to the contentious liability issue, India also ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.

The EDF, which is taking over the nuclear energy arm of Areva, the company which was initially supposed to build the reactors, is offering to construct six 1,650MWe reactors at Jaitapur which would make it be one of the largest nuclear parks in the world. During French President Francois Hollande's visit to India earlier this year, India and France had drawn up a road map for concluding technical­commercial negotiations for the Jaitapur project by the end of 2016. A memorandum of understanding to this effect was signed by EDF and the NPCIL.

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