Moving to address the liability issue that has held up deals with various countries, the government has decided to form a Nuclear Insurance Pool which will have a number of stakeholders to meet the requirement of huge financial cover in case of a mishap.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is pursuing the matter with the Ministry of Finance for creation of the pool after no single insurance company, including the General Insurance Company, expressed its ability to provide financial cover to the nuclear plants considering the huge monetary requirement.
At present, India has 20 nuclear plants and their number is expected to grow as the industry expands.
The move indicates the urgency to insure reactors, especially units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), under the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act (CLND), 2010. An agreement with Russia for setting up units 3 and 4 was signed only a week back.
This will also pave way for insuring big-ticket projects like Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) where French firm Areva is constructing 6 EPR reactors of 1650 MW each as also future atomic energy programmes.
In a letter written last week to the Ministry of Finance, DAE has said the formation of Nuclear Insurance Pool should be "expedited" on "priority basis" as suggested by GIC.
The volume of the pool will depend on how the government contributes to it for every project.
Interestingly, in Canada, the nuclear liability law caps liability to an extent after which the government takes the responsibility of the remaining liability.
DAE and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) had approached GIC for insurance. However, the public sector undertaking has said it does not have the capacity to insure the reactors in view of the high cost and also the number of reactors involved.