The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Post-Delhi, France eyes underground

France is eager to provide a whiff of fresh air to Calcutta’s Metro Railway. Following the successful implementation of a Metro Railway in Delhi, French companies are now interested in identifying areas of improvement and providing technological solutions for better functioning of the underground transport system in India.

A French delegation, led by Jean-Louis Latour, head of the economic department for south Asia, has sought an audience with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to discuss areas of cooperation and partnership in state-related projects. Sources said France is likely to extend its knowhow for Metro Railway’s expansion plans in Calcutta.

The French company, Alcatel, has already helped the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation implement an eco-friendly project with minimal loss to the environment. An important aspect of the project was identification of various sites for drainage of waste-water during construction and permanent disposal of soil, arising out of tunnelling and other constructions.

Advanced signalling, control systems and communication-based train control is also expected to provide a technological impetus to the functioning of the transport system.

The delegation also met officials of the West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation (Webel) to discuss investment opportunities in information technology and biotech sectors.

“A detailed presentation has been made regarding opportunities in the state. The delegation was keen to understand the nature of investments by major infotech companies like Wipro, Cognizant Solutions and IBM,” said Webel officials.

Speaking at a meet organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Latour said: “The industrial scene in the eastern region has been going through a change in the past few years. We are here to scout for joint-venture partnerships. Some of the major areas of interest are waste and water management, power, telecom and IT and food processing.”

The delegation has also shown interest in the food processing and agro-based industry, which is the third largest employer in France.

According to Latour, water management will soon grow into a major issue of concern for the country and “it is necessary to take steps to prevent a crisis”. He added that France was keen to participate in transportation and power projects in the northeastern states of the country.

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