Deal on Kudankulam reactors unlikely during PM's Russia visit

New Delhi, Oct 18 : India and Russia are working out a "techno-commercial" agreement for the third and fourth reactors of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu but the deal is unlikely to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow.

Russia, which already has two 1,000 MW reactors at the Kudankulam plant in Tirunelveli district, has voiced concerns over India's civil nuclear liability law, it is reliably understood.

Talks would also focus on a possible pipeline project to tap Russia's huge gas reserves. Both sides are to discuss a "TAPI-like pipeline project for evacuation of Russian gas and oil to India via the land route", the sources added.

Moscow is concerned about the poor bilateral trade levels, which stands at around USD 11 billion, and would seek measures to push economic ties. India has invited Russia to invest in the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project.

During the second leg of the prime minister's journey in China, signing of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), which aims to prevent face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops along the over 4,000 km Line of Actual Control (LAC), is expected. The blueprint of the BDCA was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security Thursday.

The sources said while India has done its bit by approving the BDCA, Beijing still has to approve the document before both sides can sign it.

Water sharing and reducing the widening trade gap would be other major focus areas during the Beijing visit.

India is concerned over the dams being built by China on the Brahmaputra. Both sides share hydrological data and Beijing, which is the upper riparian state, has assured that the dams are merely run-of-river projects that would not curb water flow to India.

While Beijing is not very forthcoming about its hydropower projects, one of which the Zangmu dam is to become operational next year, India has a "fairly good idea" of the three other major dam projects coming up on the river, the source added.

India's trade deficit with China was USD 39 billion this fiscal. In 2012-13, India's exports to China stood at USD 13.53 billion, while imports stood at USD 52.24 billion.

Visa issues would also figure, especially with two Arunachal Pradesh archers being issued stapled visas last week. The Chinese are also keen to set up an industrial park in India.

--IANS (Posted on 18-10-2013)

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