Interview | Jean-Marc Séré-Charlet National

‘Jaitapur would be the world’s most powerful nuclear plant’

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After 11 years of being on the drawing board, there is some progress in the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra with the French company EDF and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) working together to take this project off the ground said Jean-Marc Séré-Charlet, Consul General of France in Bombay. Edited excerpts:

Is the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra on? What is the current status?

EDF, the French company, submitted to NPCIL its binding offer this April and it was the result of intense work between the two countries. EDF and NPCIL teams are working actively together. This project is a key component of the strategic partnership between India and France as stated by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions.

Jaitapur would be the world’s most powerful nuclear power plant. There would be six state-of-the-art EPR reactors with an installed capacity of 9.6 GWe that will produce low carbon electricity.

It would provide electricity to seven crore households. That’s huge. It’s a complex project. Both countries are dedicated to reach an agreement. This project will embody the strong partnership between India and France, a commitment to low carbon future, and will directly benefit Maharashtra with thousands of local jobs.

What kind of investment is coming in? When do you think it will be up and running?

Cannot answer the ‘when’ right now. It is an ongoing discussion. As far as investments are concerned, I can definitely say [they are] in line with Make in India and Skill India initiatives.

For the industrial benefit of the project, EDF and its partners aim to encourage the active involvement of India’s industrial sector. In this spirit, EDF is deploying a strategy based on in-depth work to identify Indian companies that could be selected as suppliers. Some 200 Indian companies have already been pre-qualified. Pre-feasibility study, conducted by EDF, French I2EN (International Institute of Nuclear Energy) and Indian VJTI (Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute), for the establishment of a centre of excellence in India to train engineers and technicians is on.

What is the current scenario of French firms doing business in India?

I am impressed with the recovery of Indian economy. We also see a strong desire of French businesses to work in Mumbai, Maharashtra and all over India.

The key for us is to help Indian and French companies know each other better to invest more. France is a very active investor — 3rd European country in terms of Foreign Investment in India, after the Netherlands and Germany, with $9.9 billion in stock.

The pandemic has not slowed down French investments and companies in India. For instance, we have Capgemini that has hired more than 30,000 Indians this year making it one of the top 20 recruiters in India. There are also other companies that are ready to invest in different fields.

We are impressed by the desire of French companies to carry on working in India whether in Maharashtra or all-over India.

India is giving a lot of importance to Electric Vehicles. Are there any French companies involved?

Yes Renault and Citroen (Groupe Stellantis) are very involved in conventional car making in India, and have active plans to develop electrical projects. As for the important subject of electrical batteries, we already have three French companies that are present in the Indian market — Saft, Forsee Power and ECM Greentech.

The French Development Agency (FDA) is also engaged in promoting clean mobility in India, in particular, through the Smart Cities programme of the Government of India.

Which are the Indian companies doing business in France?

This year nine Indian companies invested in France, which is very good given the pandemic. But what is important is that they are happy to work in France. Thanks to several reforms, doing business in France is now simpler. It takes four days to start a business in France, four-and-a-half in U.K., and eight days in Germany.

Is there any specific sector you are looking at for investment?

France is very open to foreign investors and welcomes their contribution to its continuing transformation, notably through ecological transition, modernisation of production facilities and technological innovation. Indian business is already an important partner as far as investment is concerned. For instance, Mahindra invested in Peugeot Scooters and Tata in TCS France. We are also interested in renewable energy, agro-business and healthcare.

European subsidies of Indian firms located in the U.K., which want to keep a direct contact with the European market and avoid the difficulties linked to Brexit and its impediment for business, are also welcome in France.

Some have already decided to join Paris and its business-friendly environment.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 12:37:29 AM |

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