France to Support India’s Smart Cities Mission


France announces Euro 100 mn loan to support India’s Smart Cities Mission, build on CITIIS 1 programme….reports Asian Lite News

France has announced a Euro 100 million loan to support India’s flagship Smart Cities Mission and build on the CITIIS 1 programme.

France’s Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships Chrysoula Zacharopoulou on Tuesday announced the conclusion of the Euro 100 million loan agreement between the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Indian government.

The loan supports India’s innovative flagship Smart Cities Mission and builds on the CITIIS 1 programme, also supported by the European Union and implemented by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), a think tank under the auspices of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, as per an official release.

CITIIS 1.0 programme, launched in 2018 has to date benefitted 12 city-level projects, supporting them to build capacity and implement innovative solutions for sustainable mobility, public open spaces, urban e-governance and ICT, and social and organizational innovation in low-income settlements.

From climate-oriented designs, participation of urban local bodies and citizens, and management of environmental and social risks to ensuring social inclusion, the project supports India’s path to urban sustainability. The European Union has provided technical support to the CITIIS 1.0 programme with a contribution of six million euros.

The programme’s second edition now focuses on circular economy and integrated solid waste management. It builds on the same successful approach, with an increased budget of 212 million euros also including a loan from Germany’s Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), and a 12-million-euro grant from the European Union, as part of its flagship Global Gateway strategy.

India’s Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said Indian cities are facing the growing challenge of solid waste management: 62 million tons of municipal solid waste are generated every year in India, and this figure will go up to 165 million tons per year by 2030.

The Indian government is supporting ambitious investments for the proper collection, segregation, recycling and treatment of such volumes of waste, in which the private sector, too, has a role to play.

Welcoming the agreement, Minister of State Chrysoula Zacharopoulou underlined that “France, together with Team Europe, is proud to support this programme, which will be key in building cleaner, greener, and more sustainable cities in India. The innovative CITIIS approach not only mitigates the health and environmental impact of waste but also creates economic opportunities and a positive social impact on citizens. This project is also emblematic of how the European Union’s flagship Global Gateway strategy can support key partners, such as India, in reconciling economic development with environment protection while building the infrastructure of tomorrow.”

Charge d’Affaires a.i., Delegation of the EU Seppo Nurmi said, “For both EU and India, cities are the engine of growth but need to adapt sustainable models to be able to address climate change and environmental challenges. This project addresses that precisely, with the EU mobilizing investments from Team Europe for a transformational impact. The EU is happy to continue providing technical support to Indian cities in their journey to become self-reliant and future-ready.”

He further added: “India is a key partner for us under Global Gateway Strategy and CITIIS 2.0 is yet another project that highlights our mutual commitment to build sustainable and trusted infrastructure”, as per the release.

Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) Group is a public financial institution that funds, supports and accelerates transitions towards a more just and sustainable world. (ANI)

2 Alliance Francaise Branches Announced

In a significant step aimed at promoting the French language and culture in India, the visiting French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou on Wednesday announced that two new Alliance francaise branches will be opened in India soon.

As French remains the most learned foreign language in India, with 600,000 learners, Alliance francaise de Delhi is one of the platforms that represent France’s most active network in the world in terms of French teaching hours.

During the visit, the minister announced the two new Alliance francaise branches: the Alliance francaise of Jaipur which will open a branch in Udaipur and the Alliance francaise of Kolkata which will open a branch in Bhubaneswar.

At present, there are 15 Alliances francaises in India, with more than 28,000 students. The goal is to make the French language and culture easily accessible everywhere in India.

The minister on Wednesday also visited the Alliance Francaise de Delhi where she interacted with students. She presented the goals of the Francophonie Summit that France will host for the first time next year.

Interestingly, the French Minister is of Greek origin and she interacted with the students while sharing her personal story of learning French at an Alliance francaise.

While responding to a question from ANI on her India visit during the media interaction, the minister said that this was the third time she was in India and that both countries (India and France) share a strong partnership.

“This is the third time that I am visiting India. I came because we have a very strong partnership and I came to Alliance Francaise today to have a discussion with Indian students who decide to learn French”, the minister said.

“French is a language of opportunities – economic opportunities, scientific and cultural exchanges…In India, there are many people who want to learn (the language)…The French language belongs to everybody.”, she added.

The minister while sharing her own journey, said that she is an example of how French is a language of opportunities and cultural exchanges.

“I became minister of the French Republic, because many many years ago when I was ten years old, I decided to learn French. So here we are”, she said.

Notably, expanding French teaching in India goes hand in hand with France’s goal to welcome 20,000 Indian students by 2025, and 30,000 by 2030.

On July 14, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, France announced the decision to create international classes to ensure smooth integration of Indian students in French academic programmes.

The “French for All” programme was launched in 2021 by the French Institute in India in coordination with Delhi government schools to offer French classes. For the first time, foreign language classes are being offered in government schools, giving their students the same opportunities as pupils in private schools.

It has proven to be a great success with more than 3,000 students already opting for these classes. The same programme was launched recently in Telangana, and more are to come.

In 2024, France will host the Francophonie Summit. The “Organisation International de la Francophonie” is an international organisation comprising 88 Member States.

Minister of State Zacharopoulou highlighted that the French language does not belong to France alone, but also to a global community of more than 300 million speakers across five continents. She also stressed that French is a “language of opportunity’, opening up many economic, academic and scientific opportunities.

The French visiting minister on Wednesday also met with Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi and discussed cooperation in culture and sustainable development.

“Held productive discussions today with French Minister @CZacharopoulou on strengthening bilateral ties between India and France. Deliberations focused on fostering cooperation in culture, and sustainable development”, Meenakshi Lekhi wrote on ‘X’. (Ayushi Agarwal/ANI)

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