Working visit to India focuses on energy and rail transport
Bern, 21.10.2019 - As part of a working visit to India, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga today met with the Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, the Minister of Civil Aviation and the Minister of Railways. The Indian government would like to strengthen the country’s railways and is interested in closer cooperation with Switzerland. A body has been set up to deepen this cooperation at a technical level. The head of DETEC attended the launch and opened the Swiss Railtech Networking Forum organised by the Swiss Embassy. The working visit also included tours of energy and environmental projects. Ms Sommaruga was accompanied by representatives from various Swiss companies active in the areas of energy and cleantech as well as the railway industry.
Federal Councillor Sommaruga began the working visit to India in Bangalore, where she visited an ABB innovation centre and the solar installations that supply the airport with electricity. She also participated in a debate co-organised by Swiss Re on green finance, which focused on ways of promoting climate-friendly investment and reducing environmental risks. In Coimbatore, Ms Sommaruga visited a biogas plant and a water management project. Switzerland supports the city in waste and water management. Both projects set up as part of the CapaCITIES programme run by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the FDFA. For India’s rapidly growing cities, it is important to find solutions that make more economical use of energy and water, modernise public transport and curb the rise of CO2 emissions. In Coimbatore, Ms Sommaruga also visited a rice farm at the University of Tamil Nadu. Thanks to geobased data, rice farmers can react quickly to extreme climate-related events such as drought and rain, and insurance companies receive the necessary information to cover damage.
Today official talks were on the agenda in Delhi. Ms Sommaruga spoke with Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy about restructuring the energy system. Switzerland has taken steps to improve its energy efficiency and strengthen renewable energies, thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels and helping to underpin its climate policy. India is also investing in the expansion of renewable energy and has launched one of the world’s largest solar power programmes. Ms Sommaruga went on to meet with Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways. The Indian government aims to strengthen the railways and is interested in obtaining innovative technologies, high-quality rolling stock and expertise, in order to electrify railway lines, modernise train stations and optimise operations and timetables.
Switzerland and India therefore intend to cooperate more closely in future. Ms Sommaruga today attended the launch of the body set up for that purpose. She also opened the Swiss Railtech Networking Forum organised by the Swiss embassy. In her speech, she highlighted the longstanding railway tradition in both countries, which has contributed to the great popularity of the railways. In Switzerland, this has led to the development of many companies, which are now leaders in the railway industry. It is in the interests of both sides to intensify cooperation, including cooperation between higher education institutions. The Swiss Railtech Networking Forum was held on the eve of Asia’s largest rail industry trade fair.
During the official talks, Ms Sommaruga also met Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation. The two ministers discussed developments with regard to drones, and Switzerland’s experience with risk-based regulation.
Ms Sommaruga also met with Indian civil society representatives. The delegation accompanying Ms Sommaruga included representatives from various Swiss companies active in the areas of energy and cleantech as well as the railway industry.
Taking stock of her working visit to India, Ms Sommaruga said, “Switzerland has much to offer. Swiss firms and universities have a host of extremely good and innovative solutions in the rail sector, as well as in the field of cleantech and the environment, which are of interest to countries such as India. These solutions can be harnessed around the world, which in turn benefits Swiss exporters and safeguards jobs in Switzerland.”
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General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC