India and United Kingdom have decided to join hands to develop the signature Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC) project in close association with private companies from Britain.

This move to expand India-UK bilateral cooperation follows closely on the heels of the recent uproar over UK’s plans to make select persons from India deposit a cash bond while applying for a British visa.

The decision to implementthe project,outlined both by Prime MinisterManmohan Singh and British Prime Minister David Cameron , was taken during the recent meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skill, Vince Cable, and UK’s Minister for Government Policy in Cabinet office, Oliver Letwin during Mr. Sharma’s recent visit to London.

Mr. Cameron is keen on developing a new economic partnership with India and has been making efforts to enhancetrade.

In fact it was he who had halted the cash bond proposal on the grounds that it would hurt the relationship between the two countries and send a wrong signal at a time when both countries were trying to expand their ties.

It was decided that two senior Ministers of Britain would travel to India late this year to take a first-hand review of the project and work out the joint feasibility study details so that it could be executed at the earliest.

The Indian side has already sent to the British government broad guidelines for execution of this study and has also nominated Taleen Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) as the nodal officer for this project.

“Both sides have agreed to examine and evolve the modalities and content of this projectthrough mutual discussions andwork out a roadmap for a possible partnership in this area. Given the importance of Mumbai as a financial centre, Bengaluru as an IT and Technology hub and Pune as automobile manufacturing centre, such a project could be potentially viable,’’ Mr. Sharma told The Hindu .

Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram had announced in his budget speech that preparatory work on the BMEC is underway. He followed this up with an offer to UK to be part of this crucial economic project during his visit to Britain in May this year.

In addition to this, India has also offered to UK, investment or partnership opportunities in the National Manufacturing and Investment Zones (NIMZs). . NIMZs are proposed to be developed as green field industrial townships and benchmarked against the best manufacturing hubs in the world.

The new National Manufacturing Policy aims to create 100 million jobs and increase the share of manufacturing in India’s Gross Domestic Product from 16 per cent now to 25 per cent by 2022.

Mr. Sharma said that the consortium of UK companies should consider adopting individual NMIZs.

In a related move aimed at pushing investments in India, Invest India and UK India Business Council (UKIBC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide UK businesses information on investment opportunities and the regulatory environment in India.