India, Russia discuss more Kudankulam projects
India and Russia Tuesday discussed the contours of a fresh bilateral agreement to further their nuclear trade by setting up two additional units at the Kudankulam power project in Tamil Nadu, despite the first two units being virtually ready but not operational.
The matter came up for discussion at talks held by India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, as part of the inter-session meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission.
"The two sides discussed the agreement for units III and IV of Kudankulam. The agreement is still in the works," officials of India's ministry of external affairs said here to a question on the nuclear plant, which is facing protests from local anti-nulcear activists over its safety issues.
However, at the official joint press conference after their talks, both Krishna and Rogozin did not say anything about the Kudankulam agreement.
Though the agreement is almost ready, the two sides are still discussing if the nuclear liability law that India enacted in 2010 would be applicable to the new units at Kudankulam.
The units I and II, which are ready for operationalisation, do not attract the nuclear liability law as the agreements for the same were signed during the time of the erstwhile Soviet Union.
Local anti-nuclear activists in south Tamil Nadu have been raising the pitch against the two 1,000 MW nuclear reactors over the last couple of years, resulting in the plant missing its deadline for operationalisation last year and the fresh schedule not yet fixed.
At the press conference, Krishna said he exchanged "constructive" views with Rogozin on various aspects of the bilateral trade and investment cooperation, apart from some matters under the strategic sectors.
"We sought definite solutions to certain outstanding problems confronting our business communities and explored ways to enhance our trade turnover," Krishna said.
The two sides also agreed to "redouble efforts" to achieve the $20 billion trade target by 2015. "The figures for the first quarter of this calendar year are encouraging, but clearly more needs to be done," Krishna added.
The two leaders also reviewed the progress on some of the new initiatives that were promised since the annual summit between then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December last.
They include the joint drive to harness the benefits of modernisation and industrial cooperation by pooling in the vast human and scientific resources of the two countries. Both sides have since set up a joint working group on the subject and the first meeting is to take place shortly.
Rogozin, in his remarks, said India and Russia have moved from a buyer-seller relationship in the defence sector to joint development and production of military hardware, which included the fifth-generation fighter planes, multirole transport aircraft, apart from the successful joint venture for world's first operational supersonic cruise missile, the BrahMos.
He also said that both Russia and India wanted each other to be "strong and powerful" and that they would extend support to each other to achieve the same.
The Russian leader also offered his nation's full support in the field of space, including technologies connected with launch vehicles for higher payloads.