Need to get back illegally exported Indian artefacts: Khurshid

Last Updated 19 September 2013, 14:27 IST

Efforts would be made to get back from private collectors and museums abroad the scupltures and artefacts which were stolen or illegally taken out of the country, Union minister Salman Khurshid has said.

Terming the return of the sculpture, 'Yogini Vrishanana', from France a "big success", External Affairs Minister Khurshid today said "we have to ensure we get back from abroad our ancient sculptures and artefacts, which are the symbols of India's civilisation."

Khurshid and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch today inaugurated an exhibition, 'Return of the Yogini', at the National Museum to mark the safe return of the sculpture to India.

Khurshid said there were a lot of problems in getting back the artefacts, not least of which was to ensure they were genuine. He also stressed on the need for curbing theft of and illegal trade in such artefacts.

Katoch hailed the return of the sculpture as a success and said all efforts would be taken to protect such artefacts.

The sculpture of Yogini Vrishanana, weighing 400kg, landed in France and was acquired by art collector Robert Schrimpf.

Later, in 2008, his wife Martine informed the Indian Embassy in Paris about her desire to donate the sculpture back to the country.

Katoch, during her visit to France earlier this year, came to know about it and asked the National Museum to bring it back. The sculpture was safely brought to India last month.

The sculpture was stolen from a Yogini temple at Lokhari village in the Mau sub-division of Banda district of Uttar Pradesh between 1983 and 2008.

The Yogini temple at Lokhari, being an unprotected site, was identified as an important historical place after the discovery of the sculptures.

It was confirmed that the tradition of esoteric forms of worship was prevalent in that region in the 10th century BC. Yoginis are a group of powerful female divinities associated with the tantric mode of worship.

Khurshid said the two sides have their own points of view, the discussions should result in a "win-win" situation for both the sides.

Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy said the government will go by the law passed by Parliament. "As far as nuclear liability is concerned, whatever the law laid down in our country, law passed by Parliament will prevail," he said.

The note said as there is a paucity of time, the AEC is not being approached for approval of the contract.

"It is proposed to sign the preliminary contract prior to the visit of the Prime Minister to the USA in end-September 2013. Given the paucity of time, the approval of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) cannot be sought. Instead, approval of the CCS is being solicited directly," the note said.

But in its statement, the DAE maintained that the NPCIL will enter into preliminary contract only with the approval of AEC and the Central government.

"The proposed contract with Westinghouse is for a limited range of pre-project services.

NPCIL will enter into this preliminary contract only with the approval of Atomic Energy Commission and the Government of India. This contract, if approved, will not bind NPCIL to enter into a contract with Westinghouse for the supply of reactors without establishing safety and techno-commercial viability," the DAE said.

It also said the contracts, which will have to be approved by the competent authority of the government, will be fully consistent with Indian law.

"There is no question of Indian law being violated or diluted. The projects will have to meet the highest standards of safety and the power generated will have to be competitive with other sources of nuclear as well as alternative forms of power. This will apply to our projects with Russia, France and the United States," the DAE statement said.

It said as foreign suppliers as well as domestic vendors have raised a number of queries regarding the manner in which the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010 and its associated rules will apply to their contracts, the department had sought a legal opinion on these issues.

The opinion will be examined by the DAE and NPCIL, the statement said.

While NPCIL's negotiations with Russia's ASE for further reactors at Kudankulam are at an advanced stage and preliminary agreement has been signed with Areva of France, NPCIL is currently negotiating a preliminary contract with Westinghouse.

Various reactor manufacturing companies, including those in the US, France and Russia, are not comfortable with the Indian Civil Liability for Nuclear Disaster Act, owing to huge financial liabilities for suppliers.

The law allows NPCIL to seek partial compensation from suppliers if their reactors are involved in a nuclear accident.

Singh is travelling to the US from September 25 to 30 during which he will have a bilateral meeting with American President Barack Obama.  

(Published 19 September 2013, 13:59 IST)

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