France keen to give infrastructure push, develop tourism in Himachal Pradesh

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 An Arial view of snow-covered city after heavy snowfall in Shimla.
Shimla, Oct 16: France is keen to invest in urban services, renewable energy and tourism in Himachal Pradesh, its ambassador to India Francois Richier said in Shimla on Thursday.

"We can provide solution to Himachal Pradesh in urban infrastructure, especially urban transport, water and waste management and urban lighting," Richier told reporters.

The French envoy was here along with a 15-member delegation of business, specialising in urban infrastructure development.

"The hill state has specific requirements due to its mountainous nature. Geography and population are key factors here," said Richier, who is here for the first time in his official capacity.

He said the state could also collaborate with France in developing smart cities.

"We met Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in the morning (Thursday) and he expressed interest in providing technical knowhow in water treatment and supply, urban transport and energy efficiency."

An official statement quoting Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh also said, "The state intends to take up and develop major towns like Shimla, Manali and Dharamsala as smart cities."

It said the French government has shown its keenness to adopt the towns and the state government would take up this matter with the government of India.

According to Richier, several French companies have already been working in India for development of better urban infrastructure and metro is one of them.

"In Himachal, the construction of metro is not feasible. Our focus here is on developing ropeway and metro cable. We fully agree with the importance of providing environment-friendly transport system, which helps cutting consumption of fossil fuel and lowers impact on climate change and melting of glaciers," he said.

He said there was vast potential to develop renewable energies and tourism in the state.

Santosh Misra of Citelum India Private Ltd., who was part of the French delegation, told IANS that energy audit of all street lights of five municipal corporations, including Ahmadabad and Indore, was a great success in reducing the electricity bill of these civic corporations.

"Our company ensures up to 35 percentage of energy conservation through installation of LED lights," he said.

Officials of the state urban development department said to overcome Shimla's chronic problem of traffic congestion, the government is mulling to go for a multi-million ropeway project.

A Rs.250-crore aerial ropeway project connecting Shimla's inter-state bus terminus at Tutikandi with the Mall road, the famous strolling street, will be built under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, an official said.

He said the three-km ropeway would carry around 1,500-2,000 people per hour each way and the one-side travel time would be around 10 minutes.

IANS

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