New Delhi: On the eve of a key bilateral meeting, Russia said the cost of the next phase of the Kudankulam atomic project would escalate if it has to bear additional liabilities arising from a possible nuclear accident. "If there are several points that require additional assurances, of course, it will require additional money to be paid by India," visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said ahead of the Inter-Governmental Commission meeting on Monday.
With differences in perception over India's civil nuclear liability law, the negotiations on the units III and IV of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu have become a point of contention between Moscow and New Delhi. While Russia argues that the civil nuclear liability law should not apply to these units as the agreement on them predates the 2010 civil liability law, and could be seen as "grandfathered" by the original 1988 agreement, India has clearly stated that making an exception for Russia will amount to diluting its civil nuclear law which will encourage the US and France to seek similar exemptions, which it cannot afford.
The estimated cost of units III and IV is $6.4 billion, of which $3.4 billion will be taken care of by Russian state credits. Citing the lessons learnt from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Rogozin, who will co-chair the Inter-Governmental Commission meeting on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, underlined that the atomic technology that Russia was providing to India was "state-of-the-art" and people should not have fears over it.
"Having suffered the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, we are aware of the dangers. After that we created state-of-the-art and advanced technologies comparable with those available in the world. As for the nuclear project under construction in India, it will be the most reliable in the world. As head of the committee (Rusatom) on nuclear cooperation with India, so I am responsible for my words," he said.