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France takes up Haldia pullout

Calcutta, Nov. 19: The French government has said that it has taken up the Haldia port matter with “relevant” Indian authorities “at the most effective level”.

In an email reply to a set of questions from The Telegraph, the embassy of France in New Delhi has conveyed its official position on the pullout of HBT, a joint venture between Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) of France and ABG Infralogistics.

The following is the response from the French embassy in New Delhi to the questions from this newspaper:

Q: Has the French government taken up the matter with its Indian counterpart?

A: The investment made by the French company Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) and its Indian counterpart ABG Infralogistics in Haldia is quite substantial and responds to the need for a more efficient logistics solution in the Indian ports. When serious problems take place to the detriment of a French company, it is natural for the Embassy of France in New Delhi and the Consulate General of France in Kolkata to take up the matter with the relevant Indian authorities.

Q: At what level has the communication gone out?

A: At the most effective level.

Q: What is the nature of the communication?

A: The first objective is to seek the analysis of the administration of India and the government of West Bengal on what took place there, especially when serious breaches of law and order were apparently involved.

Q: How do you view LDA’s predicament at Haldia?

A: We have been following very closely the press reports on this matter and we are in close contact with LDA on that.

Q: Is the French government worried about the situation at Haldia?

A: LDA is an experienced and respected company. It has been operating in India for over a century and currently operates successfully in several major Indian ports for the benefit of the Indian economy. The fact that such a company is forced to pull out from Haldia being unable to operate in a peaceful manner is indeed a matter of concern.

Q: Do you believe it could impact potential French investment in Bengal?

A: No comment.

Q: Has the French government written to the state government in Bengal as well?

A: Our Consul General in Kolkata has of course been in contact with the government in West Bengal on this matter.