Minister wants AFD to offer aid in power, transport sectors

Anne Paugam, chief executive officer of the French development agency AFD, said here on Saturday that the agency was willing to collaborate in the area of urban development in the State. She was speaking on the occasion of the signing of a project agreement between AFD and the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) for a Euro 180-million aid for Kochi Metro.

Earlier, Minister for Power and Railways Aryadan Mohammed appealed to the AFD for assistance in more infrastructure development projects of the State. He requested the AFD’s support in the development of the power and transportation sectors of the State. Stating that the French loan was the biggest such aid extended to the State for an infrastructure project, the Minister hailed the signing of the agreement as a remarkable event.

Ms. Paugam expressed the hope that KMRL and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation would go for fair and competitive bidding that ensures a cost-effective and optimal execution of the project.

Ms. Paugam called for innovative, technically sound and environment friendly metro rail while hoping that the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority would provide easier access to the metro and improve the efficiency of the entire transportation system.

Stating that the metro would help reduce carbon emission by 44,000 tones annually, Ms. Paugam said the project would have a socio-economic-environmental impact. It would improve access to the city and thereby create more jobs for more people and add to the city’s attraction as an economic hub.

She said that the signing of the pact had cleared the way for the funding of the first phase of the Kochi Metro project. The project would improve mobility in Kochi city while ensuring quality urban transport system and sustainable development of the larger metropolitan area.

The agreement was not just an important milestone for Kochi but for the AFD as well since it marked a significant contribution towards improving urban mobility in India, especially second tier cities. This, she said, was in tune with the mandate of the agency for facilitating green and inclusive growth.

Ms. Paugam said the agency had a taste for metro projects citing its association with the Bangalore metro rail project. She said that the AFD has substantial experience in urban mobility sector drawing on its association with the best practices in Brazil and China and now in India.

KMRL managing director Elias George expressed the hope for a long and constructive partnership with the AFD while observing that the association of the agency from France with one of the most advanced urban transport systems in the world would bring in valuable technical knowhow and expertise.

He said the assistance from the AFD had come as a blessing at a time when negotiations with some other funding agencies were getting nowhere.

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