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Czech firms are looking at three (railway) corridors between Delhi and Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad and Delhi and Mumbai and Pune. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
Czech firms are looking at three (railway) corridors between Delhi and Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad and Delhi and Mumbai and Pune. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
(Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

Czech Republic offers to help India on rail corridors, nuclear power

Trade minister says Czech firms will be interested in building and supplying technology for the railway corridors

New Delhi: Hoping to attract Indian businesses with the tagline “German technology at (much lower) Czech prices,“ Czech trade minister Martin Kuba has offered his country’s expertise in setting up high-speed rail corridors besides offering nuclear power equipment supplies for India’s atomic units.

On a five-day visit with a 106-member business delegation, Kuba is among a long list of European dignitaries to visit India seeking enhanced economic cooperation with Asia’s third-largest economy. French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron were in India last month with similar-sized delegations.

“Some of them (European countries) are desperate" given the economic situation in Europe, said Charan Wadhva, economist with the Centre for Policy Research think tank in New Delhi. Europe has been battling a debt crisis that has caused economic growth to dip.

“These countries also see that India is also on the revival path," after a series of measures announced by the government since August, Wadhva said. “There is a revival of investor confidence with the government showing seriousness in restoring confidence in the economy."

Late on Tuesday, Kuba said he had discussed cooperation in energy, mining and infrastructure in a slew of meetings with India’s commerce, heavy industry, science and technology and non-conventional energy ministers in New Delhi.

“We are looking at three (railway) corridors between Delhi and Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad and Delhi and Mumbai and Pune," Kuba told reporters. Czech companies would be interested in building and supplying technologies for the railway corridors—carriages, locomotives and signalling systems, he said.

“We have established a working group with specialists from both countries" to further explore the idea, he said. Czech ambassador to India Miloslav Stasek said that the Czech railway network was the “most dense" in Europe, a testimony to the country’s competence in the area, something the Central European state—which borders Europe’s economic and engineering powerhouse Germany—was looking to share with India.

Indian officials acknowlegde the prowess of Czech companies in technologies from engineering and robotics to defence. “India is looking at imparting skills 500 million youth (by the year 2022), so there are opportunities in this area," said one official who did not wish to be named. “There is skill development in the area of engineering, mining and why not Czech companies whose expertise is as good as German companies."

In the energy segment, Czech companies were looking at collaboration in wind, hydel, solar and nuclear energy, Kuba said.

India and the undivided Czechoslovakia signed a civil nuclear pact in 1966 but that was later validated in March 2011, almost two decades after the Czech Republic separated itself from Slovakia.

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