India’s allotment of two nuclear sites welcomed

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has welcomed India’s reported identification of two “greenfield” nuclear sites for commercial development by US firms as “a significant step” on the eve of secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s visit.

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“This allotment by India is a welcome transition from conceptualising US-India civil nuclear cooperation to actual implementation,” said Ron Somers, president of the advocacy group seeking to deepen trade and strengthen commercial ties between the two countries.

India proposes developing at least 30,000 MW of nuclear power over the next 20 years, valued at more than $150 billion, noted the trade group, which forms part of the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses,

“Companies like General Electric and Westinghouse, supported by other major US suppliers, will now be able to commence site work, perform geo-technical investigations, and complete feasibility studies – all necessary steps that lead to actual implementation and eventual generation of carbon-free nuclear power,” Somers said.

Two identified sites in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat “are both excellent locations where the people of these states appreciate and understand the benefits of reliable electric supply, and where human talent to erect and maintain these state of the art facilities is plentiful,” he said.

Noting that allocation by India of nuclear “parks” to Russia and France has already occurred, he said US firms have been eagerly awaiting this present allocation, so feasibility planning, site development, and actual implementation by US companies may also now begin.

Both Westinghouse and General Electric stand to be the main beneficiaries of the recent Indian announcement regarding site allocation supporting US technologies. These companies have been established in India for decades.

“With this major milestone, we now look forward to India allowing the full-scale participation of the dynamic Indian private sector in India’s civil nuclear build-out,” Somers said.

“As India’s private sector joins in this activity, Indian firms will seek, as US firms do, limits on liability in the event of a mishap,” he said.

“US companies have been pressing India to sign-on to the international Convention of Supplementary Compensation, which would limit liability to privately held companies in the event of an accident.”

The “allotment of nuclear sites for US technology is a welcome first step towards what promises to be a long and fruitful partnership between US and Indian companies,” said Somers.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])