National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said India and the US are hoping to ink a "Pre Early Works Agreement" which would help in initiating work on setting up the nuclear power plant.
"They are hoping to do the pre early works, which involves some transfer of proprietary information," he said during a talk on 'India and the US' organised by the Aspen Institute India here.
The 'pre early works agreement' is to be inked between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company. The MoU is likely to be finalised during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the US, informed sources said.
Asked if India was close to clinching the commercial negotiations between NPCIL and Westinghouse, he said: "We are close, yes."
The MoU on 'pre early works' would set the stage for the setting up of six 1,000MW nuclear power reactors at Chayya-Mithivirdi in Gujarat.
On India's civil nuclear liability law which puts the onus on suppliers in the case of an accident, Menon said the law would impact not just the US but also domestic suppliers who, he said, have been seeking clarifications on how it would affect them.
"And they need to know in order to do business. We are in the process of addressing those concerns," Menon said.
He said: "It has been our consistent stand that whatever nuclear power plants we import should meet the highest standards of safety, deliver power at a price that is competitive vis-a-vis other sources of energy."
He said he was "very surprised" over reports in the media Thursday "that somehow the Indian law would not apply to projects in India".
He said civil nuclear projects in India would "naturally be subject to the Indian laws, including the civil liability law".
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said at a briefing separately that there was "no question of Indian laws being violated".
India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), in a statement Thursday, had said that all civil nuclear deal contracts would be fully consistent with Indian law and there was "no question of Indian law being violated or diluted".
The statement said 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".
Opposition parties have expressed concern over reports that the government was reportedly trying to bypass a key clause in the nuclear liability law in order to overcome hindrances to clinching the deal.
Menon termed the Indo-US civil nuclear deal as a "symbol of the transformed relationship" between the two countries and which would help to meet India's power needs.
--IANS (Posted on 20-09-2013)