Saturday, 20 October 2012

India and Switzerland Discuss Bilateral Cooperation in Transport Sector

New Delhi:(Page3 News Network)-The visiting Head of the Department (Federal Councillor) for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Ms. Doris Leuthard of Switzerland (Swiss Confederation) called on the Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Railways, Government of India, Dr. C. P. Joshi, here today. The two sides were accompanied by their respective delegations. Welcoming the Swiss Federal Councillor and her delegation, Dr. C.P.Joshi said that given the prevailing tough global economic environment, it’s heartening that the economic and commercial relations between the two nations have acquired momentum. Our bilateral trade has been heading upwards for the last five years and stands at over US $ 4.5 billion. Still, there are potentials and effort should be made to optimise them, he added. 
Referring to the Indian’s Road Sector, Dr. Joshi said that India has the world’s second longest road network of over 4.236 million kilometres of which 76,818 kilometres is National Highways. The Government of India has embarked upon a massive programme of upgrading its National Highways. Our National Highway building programme envisages investment of about US $ 70 billion over the next five years. He pointed out that there is great opportunity and immense potential in developing sustainable transport infrastructure. 
The Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Railways explained that varied geographical features and climatic conditions of India require different technology for constructing highways and expressways. India intends to take up mega projects of longer length. Work of about 400-500 kilometres is estimated to cost about US $ one billion each. Dr. Joshi emphasised that India seeks increased participation of Swiss contractors/concessionaires in its endeavour to have a world-class infrastructure. 

Referring to the existing contribution of Swiss companies in India’s road sector, Dr. Joshi said that the Swiss consultancy company, M/s. Renardet SA, is working satisfactorily as Supervision Consultant in joint venture with Indian Consultants for total 12 road packages out of which 7 road packages have been completed and rest are under implementation. Dr. Joshi said that India is looking for modern technology and technical expertise in construction, operation and development of highways. The Minister said that Intelligent Transport System including electronic toll collection information technology based solutions to Traffic Management, Traffic Law enforcement; Road Safety and Highways administration are being sought by us for cooperation. 
Talking about road safety and other related aspects, Dr. Joshi said that India’s Ministry of Road Transport & Highways is working towards putting in place a comprehensive action plan to address all aspects like – Road Traffic Safety through provision of safety infrastructure, foot over-bridges, under passes, signals and signage, IT based Safety Solutions, automation in Traffic Management, safety law violations and enforcement etc. In these areas collaborations are welcome, Dr. Joshi added. 
Talking about the cooperation in railway sector, Dr. Joshi informed that a Letter of Intent has been signed between Raethische Bann Railway, which operates the Albula - Bernina mountain railway, and in India, Ministry of Railways, which operates the Kalka-Shimla Railway for exchange of technology and Cultural values related to world heritage. Dr. Joshi said that five major areas of mutual cooperation have been identified. These are i) Sharing knowledge and information, ii) Conducting bilateral exchange programmes, iii) Assisting each other through technical collaboration and exchange, iv) Striving at joint activities for training and capacity building and v) Considering joint promotional activities for the benefit of local communities and common actions of communication and rising awareness in general. The Ministry of Railways is exploring areas for technical and commercial exchange with the management of Jungfrau Railway. 
Dr. Joshi further said that in addition, Indian Railway has identified the following areas for mutual cooperation: i) Technical inputs from the Swiss Mountain Railway for operation, manufacture and maintenance of high altitude rolling stock and development of world class panoramic passenger coaches. ii) Opportunities for public exposure of heritage and tourism development potential for the people of two countries by providing a glimpse into each other business opportunities. 
Dr. C. P. Joshi called upon to enhance the cooperation further by sharing of best practices and technologies in road, transport sector and railways. 
In her remarks, the visiting Federal Councillor, Mrs. Doris Leuthard said that Switzerland is willing to have cooperation with India on transport sector. She said that her country has good expertise in tunnel technology and other infrastructure related sectors. She expressed the hope that both the countries will benefits from each others’ experience. 

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