Committed to Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project: India to France

India on Thursday assured France of its commitment to the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in the backdrop of protests being carried out in that area against the atomic plant.

Paris: India on Thursday assured France of its commitment to the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in the backdrop of protests being carried out in that area against the atomic plant.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who held bilateral talks with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius here, said both sides are committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety in the project.

"Our government remains committed to the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. Both sides are committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety in the project," Khurshid said at a joint press conference.

The remarks of Khurshid, who is here on an official visit, came at a time when protests are going on back in India against the 2,000-MW Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu over safety concerns.

Protests have also been organised against the Jaitapur project in Maharashtra.

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

During the December 2010 visit of the French President Nicholas Sarkozy to India, framework agreements were signed for the setting up two third-generation EPR reactors of 1650 MW each at Jaitapur by the French company Areva.

The deal caters for the first set of two of six planned reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years.

Khurshid`s visit is the first visit by an Indian External Affairs Minister to this country in a decade.

Khurshid said he held a "comprehensive and fruitful" discussions with Fabius.

"We reviewed our cooperation in defence, space and civil nuclear energy and counter terrorism, which are important pillars of our bilateral relations," he said.

Khrushid said India and France share the same values of liberty, equality and fraternity.

"Our excellent bilateral relations with France are marked by mutual trust. They encompass trade, investment, defence, security, counter terrorism, space, nuclear energy, education, culture, science & technology and people to people contacts," he said.

The minister stressed that though affected by global economic slowdown, bilateral economic and commercial relations are steadily growing in recent years.

"Yet there remains considerable untapped potential for further growth. We invite French investments in our infrastructure, food processing industries, hi-tech and green technologies," he said.

"We believe that an early conclusion of the Broad-based Indian-EU Trade and Investment Agreement would significantly contribute in enhancing trade between our two countries," he added.

On the issue of terrorism, he said both India and France are resolutely opposed to it. "We reiterated our commitment to continue to cooperate in the fight against terrorism".

In his opening statement, Khurshid said both he and his counterpart extends their congratulations to the scientists of both countries on the successful launch of the Indo-French joint scientific satellite, Megha Tropiques, in October 2011.

"Megha-Tropiques satellite is in good health and data from all the four scientific instruments on-board are received in India and France.

"Megha-Tropiques has become the first of the eight-satellite constellation for Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) coordinated by NASA," he said.

Khurshid said he looks forward to the launch of Satellite for ARGOS and ALTIKA (SARAL) in the first quarter of 2013. This is another India-France joint satellite to study sea surface altitude.

In the field of Science and Technology, "we appreciate support of French Government to the bilateral cooperation in the field of Science &Technology, through CEFIPRA (India-France Centre for Scientific Research), which is celebrating its silver jubilee this year and serves as a special vehicle to take forward such cooperation.

"We have agreed that the great potential for increased S&T collaboration and CEFIPRA should be realised soon. With regard to French collaboration in IIT, Rajasthan, I am happy to note that the Letter of Intent has been signed," Khurshid said.

Khurshid also thanked Fabius for the support of the French government to the extension project of Maison de L`Inde, which is the "most sought after" hostel for Indian students and research scholars.

The construction on the Project has started and is expected to be completed in the next two and a half years. Under the extension project 72 new rooms would be constructed on land donated by the French government.

"We also discussed the situation in our respective regions and agreed to continue this dialogue at all levels.

"I thanked Foreign Minister Fabius for the support of French Government to India`s increasing role in world affairs," he said noting that France has been consistent in voicing support for India`s permanent membership of the UN Security Council and also India`s inclusion in other international fora, including the multilateral export control regimes.

"We share common views on most regional and global issues," the minister said.