Reactors to cost double: Russia

Russia has told India that Kudankulam nuclear power plants 3 and 4 would cost "double", after New Delhi decided that the next two reactors would come under the new civil nuclear liability law, and not be covered by the agreement on Kudankulam 1 and 2, top government sources have told The Indian Express.

It is learnt that Moscow has conveyed the "steep cost escalation" in recent weeks through both technical experts and diplomatic channels, after "monetizing" the factors arising out of suppliers' responsibility.

Negotiations are under way as both sides work towards the summit meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi on December 24. However, no final understanding on the price is expected to be reached before Putin's visit.

Without disclosing exact figures, a government official told The Indian Express, "If the initial price was X, then the new cost is about 2X."

With Russia extending credit lines worth $ 3.2 billion for Kudankulam 3 and 4 early this year, initial costs had been estimated to be between $ 6 billion and $ 7 billion. This figure could now double.

Moscow had urged New Delhi to recognise Kudankulam 3 and 4 as being grandfathered under the agreement for Kudankulam 1 and 2, and argued that the inter-governmental agreement of 2008, which firms up plans for setting up four additional reactors, was done before the liability law.

The Department of Atomic Energy and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd had agreed with the Russians and backed the proposal. The Prime Minister's Office, however, raised questions and sent the matter for detailed legal consideration.

The legal opinion to the PMO was that the 2010 civil nuclear liability law would have to apply on any future reactor regardless of any technical argument.

No contract, as per the legal view, could be inconsistent with the law.

... contd.

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