NEW DELHI (AFP) Indias cabinet on Friday approved a long-delayed draft law aimed at opening up its civilian nuclear power industry to private investment, particularly from US companies, reports said. The bill, which will now be sent to parliament where it is expected to pass comfortably, is part of a landmark atomic energy pact with the United States in 2008 that granted India access to foreign nuclear technology. But US companies have been reluctant to invest without a new legal framework governing their work in India and specifying the amount of compensation they would have to pay in the event of an accident. The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill was approved by the cabinet Friday, the official Press Trust of India reported, after a compromise was brokered with the main BJP opposition party, which denounced a previous version. The government had sought the BJPs approval as it wanted a parliamentary consensus on the issue. Many commentators have linked the passing of the law to a forthcoming November visit to India by US President Barack Obama. French and Russian state-owned firms whose liabilities are underwritten by their governments have already signed a slew of deals to build power plants in energy-hungry India. But US energy firms such as General Electric, whose liabilities are not covered by the US government, are unwilling to invest despite the size of the market, estimated at 150 billion dollars. The draft law was finalised Wednesday by a 31-member parliamentary panel that proposed tripling the compensation cap in the event of a nuclear accident to 15 billion rupees (322 million dollars). India has ambitious plans to build nuclear plants to meet rocketing demand for energy from its fast-developing 1.2 billion population. Critics of previous versions of the bill lambasted the previous 110-million-dollar compensation cap and drew parallels with the 1984 industrial disaster in Bhopal, central India, which involved a US firm. Union Carbide settled its liabilities with the Indian government over the accident, which killed tens of thousands, with a 470-million-dollar out-of-court settlement in 1989.