Kudankulam: Govt nod for 2 new n-power units

FP

The Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared the decks for building two more 1,000 MW nuclear power units at Kudankulam by giving the go-ahead to the Russian offer of about Rs 40,000 crore for the project days before it lapsed.

The decision came right after the Department of Atomic Energy informed the government that the first reactor in Kudankulam would go critical this month. The movement on the project is also vital to the tough stand the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu has taken against protesters in a bid to meet its poll claims to improve the power situation in the state.

But Russia, sources said, has now conveyed that it would like to renegotiate the techno-commercial offer after India made it clear that the new civil nuclear liability law will apply to these reactors. There was confusion on this after the CCS clearance too, because India was under the impression that it was approving a Russian quote that came well after India's stand on the liability law had been conveyed.

The Russian side gave a revised offer after the previous one lapsed last November. New Delhi presumed that this new offer, which was valid until March 31, would have covered the liability aspects of the deal since the quote had been increased.

But after India accepted this offer, the Russian side claimed that it had not factored in the liability cost since the Indian position had not been formally conveyed. This, sources said, has now been done and the matter has been discussed at the highest levels between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Durban. Both leaders agreed that further details should be worked out without further delay.

At present, a Russian negotiating team is said to be in Mumbai, discussing the final offer with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. The hope is that an acceptable price band can be identified within the confines of the existing offer, which entails a 70-30 debt-equity ration.

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