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Cameron eyes India 'corridor' project

Publication Date : 19-02-2013


British PM wants to jointly develop area between Mumbai and Bangalore


British Prime Minister David Cameron began a visit to India by pushing British involvement in setting up new towns and businesses along a wide geographical swathe from the financial capital Mumbai to the software hub of Bangalore.

Cameron arrived yesterday on a three-day visit with a trade delegation from more than 100 companies, the biggest to leave British shores, to pump up trade and woo Indian investments at a time when the British economy is slowing.

"We look at the power and growth of your economy and see amazing opportunity," he said when meeting business leaders and employees of Hindustan Unilever, India's largest consumer goods company, in Mumbai, the first leg of his visit.

"For instance, we are looking with your government about whether we can open up a whole corridor between Mumbai and Bangalore of growing towns and development."

Cameron said he wanted to see India and Britain collaborate in the Mumbai-Bangalore industrial corridor to develop nine districts between two of India's top metros and generate jobs and investment of up to US$25 billion.

"It would unleash India's potential along the 1,000km from Mumbai to Bangalore, transforming lives and putting British businesses in prime position to secure valuable commercial deals," he said.

He said he had brought with him architects, planners and finance experts to work out the "complete solution".

Cameron promised 1 million pounds ($1.55 million) to help fund a feasibility study on the project.

He and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are expected to discuss the corridor today.

India is already building a similar Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, worth $90 billion and covering 1,483km, with financial and technical aid from Japan.

The Delhi-Mumbai corridor project will also have nine industrial zones of 250 sq km each, a high-speed train line, three ports, six airports, a six-lane intersection-free expressway connecting the two metros and a 4,000MW power plant.

But that project has been delayed by land acquisition and other procedural issues.

Britain, a colonial power from which India gained independence in 1947, has been trying to recast its ties with India.

Last year, it announced that it would stop a 280 million pounds-a-year aid programme to India starting 2015 in recognition of India's "changing place in the world". After 2015, Britain has said it will focus on "technical cooperation" and private sector investment.

"It is no longer an issue of selling goods and services; it's about jointly investing in new projects and welcoming investment back into the UK. British businesses are well placed to do this," Cameron said yesterday.

The British PM, who is visiting India for the second time since taking office in May 2010, hopes to expand trade, including selling British defence equipment at a time when India is in a race to modernise its armed forces.

Cameron's visit to India comes four days after that of French President Francois Hollande, who was also here to drum up trade.

Ahead of his trip, Cameron said he had not given up on selling Britain's Eurofighter jet to India. India has chosen the French Rafale instead.


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