The government Thursday denied that it sought to "appease" Russia by exempting it from any liability under the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, in the event of any accident at Kudankulam power plant in Tamil Nadu.
According to an affidavit filed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), granting waiver to Russia from any liability arising on account of any accident at the plant's Unit I and II was in reciprocation of the latter coming to India’s aid when the international technology was denied in the wake of the 1974 Pokhran nuclear test.
“It is also denied that government of India signed the agreement with Russia (exempting it of any liability) in order to appease the later," Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman told an apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra.
The court was hearing a petition seeking to restrain the government from operationalising the plant before all safety measures were put in place, including the 17 steps recommended by a task force set up by the NPCIL.
The court was told that it was a “major policy decision” by the government “considering the prevailing circumstances at the time”.
Nariman told the court that “after the 1974 peaceful nuclear experiment conducted by the country at Pokharan, India was placed under international sanctions for all nuclear related supplies”.
Though India continued its indigenous efforts to develop nuclear energy, it was subjected to an international denial regime.
“Under these circumstances, it was the erstwhile USSR, which had come forward and had offered to supply large capacity" reactors to India, said the NPCIL, adding that it “was a huge step in sustaining our civilian nuclear capabilities”.
The court asked Additional Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran that to tell the court whether it had taken the environmental clearance for the desalination plant to supply water to the plant.
“Do you require permission from the environment ministry for the desalination plant," the court asked.
The court also wanted to know how much water was required for cooling the plant reactors and what was the source of water. The court inquired whether the sea water could be used directly without it being desalinated.
Senior counsel Sanjay Parikh, who appeared as one of the interveners, asked Prasaran to tell whether taking sea water and after using it for cooling purses and draining it back in the sea affected marine-eco system.