On Monday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy joined Prime Mnister Manmohan Singh in clinching agreements to set up two nuclear power plants in India. The plants are slated to be built in Jaitapur in Maharashtra and each will have a capacity of 1,650MWe. That capacity will eventually be hiked to 10,000MWe when four more reactors are added. Sarkozy said the agreement showed France was willing to enter what he called a “total partnership” with India in civilian nuclear power. Though no commercial pact was inked, Monday’s agreement was signed by France’s Areva and India’s NPCIL.
And while nuclear power dominated Sarkozy’s visit, several other matters also came up. Prime Minister Singh called France India’s most important and reliable defence partner. Sarkozy meanwhile welcomed talks between the two countries on modernizing India’s French-made Mirage aircraft. He also mentioned that French company Rafale is in the running for India’s massive contract for 126 combat aircraft. On a different note, Sarkozy said the two countries had similar views on Afghanistan and that Pakistan must commit itself to fighting terrorism.
In other news, unique identity numbers could soon become mandatory in some financial transactions. Mint has learnt that the finance ministry has proposed making UIDs compulsory for any deals made on the securities market. And it has asked market regulator Sebi for its views on the proposal. Sebi and UID officials are expected to meet this month for discussions. Currently, anyone dealing on the markets needs a permanent account number. But people laundering money or committing fraud can use so-called benami accounts that are registered with fictitious names.
Markets ended Monday flat after shooting up in early trade. The Sensex closed a mere 14 points higher at 19,981. And the Nifty finished virtually unchanged at 5, 992.