Czech Republic offers to develop three major rail corridors in India

Czech Republic, one of the few European countries not hit by economic crisis, has proposed financial and technological assistance to develop three major rail corridors and willing to share its vast experience with India in nuclear and other energy sources.

Czech trade and industry minister, Martin Kuba, on a visit to India at the head of a 100-member business delegation, told reporters he had discussions with railway minister P K Bansal on the possibility of funding and providing technological assistance to India for developing three corridors from Delhi and Mumbai.

A working group is to be set up for this purpose, he said, adding the two countries are expected cooperate in modernisation signalling system in Indian Railways. He did not make it clear if the cooperation would be for freight corridors or high-spe­ed passenger train corridor.

Kuba said Czech companies including automobile major Skoda Auto, defence equipment maker Eldis and power company Skoda Power plan to invest up to $2 billion in India in the next two years. He said the bilateral trade is to be stepped to $2 billion by 2015 from the present $1.2 billion.

Nearly 80 prominent Czech companies top executives from sectors like engineering, transport and energy including wind and solar power were accompanying the minister.

Five memorandum of understanding are to be signed between the two countries during the India engineering sourcing show to be held in Mumbai on March 14. Kuba and his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma would participate in the event. Czech Export bank, Export Guarantee and Insurance company and Czech invest are expected to sign MOUs with its Indian counterpart.

Kuba said Czech heavy industry companies had vast experience in mining, steel, coal, petroleum, civil aviation, water resources and railways, and the two countries proposed to strengthen their cooperation in these areas. “Our technology is as good as that of Germany, but at a cheaper cost,” he said.

In nuclear, he said, Czech has cooperation with Russian and US companies. Czech was already involved in India’s nuclear programme indirectly as the Russian company setting up nuclear plant in India had collaboration with Czech companies. Next only to France, Czech had the largest number of nuclear plants in Europe accounting form nearly 50 per cent of its energy requirement. It is also in the process of building more nuclear plants.

Industrialists from the Czech Republic have shared their investment plans in a meeting with members of the Engineering Export Promotion Council here.

Czech investments were also sought in the proposed National Manufacturing and Investment Zones (NMIZs), commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma, said after his meeting with Kuba.

“Since Czech Republic is strong in manufacturing generally and heavy engineering in particular – metallurgy, machine tools, defence equipment, we invite its automotives which account for 24 per cent of Czech manufacturing to invest in NIMZs in India,” Sharma said.

A joint working group (JWG) on advanced manufacturing and heavy engineering is scheduled later this month to promote collaboration between Indian and Czech companies.