In a major boost to their energy ties, India and Russia on September 13 launched a Working Group for creating an “energy bridge” for a possible direct gas delivery from Russia and also directed their concerned ministries to finalise “concrete outcomes” in key areas of trade and investment by the next month’s summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The discussions were held during the 22nd Indo-Russia interGovernmental Commission meeting on September 13 which were co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
“The Intergovernmental Commission reviewed the preparations for the forthcoming India-Russia Annual Summit to be held in Goa on 15 October 2016.
“While expressing satisfaction at the progress made in regard to some projects, the Commission also directed concerned Ministries and Departments to focus on key sectors in the trade & investment spheres to finalise concrete outcomes by the forthcoming summit in October 2016,” MEA said after the meeting.
Noting that on the investment front, there has been substantial progress with expanding cooperation in oil and gas sphere, MEA in a release said Indian and Russian oil and gas companies are working towards finalisation of investments in each other’s countries.
“Both sides launched an industry level Working Group- led by Gazprom, biggest Russian gas company, and a consortium of Indian oil and gas companies- for creating an ‘energy bridge’ between the two countries through possible gas pipelines for direct gas delivery from Russia to India,” it said.
India and Russia reiterated their strong desire to further broaden their strategic cooperation with emphasis on key sectors such as nuclear energy, space, modernisation, high technology, disaster management, and supercomputing.
Asserting that a new milestone was recently achieved in the India-Russia cooperation in nuclear energy with the dedication of Unit 1 of the Kudankulam nuclear power project by Modi and Putin last month, it said the two sides renewed their commitment to work together on remaining stages of Kudankulam 2,3,4,5 and 6; and other projects through localisation under the Make in India programme.
Stating that connectivity was a major theme of discussion during the meeting, it noted that implementation of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project and the launch of the ‘Green Corridor’ project for customs facilitation are major steps towards better connectivity and trade facilitation.
Cooperation between Indian and Russian railways in the field of dedicated freight corridor, modernisation of railway stations, and training of railway personnel emerged as a new area to broaden cooperation in transports and logistics, it added.
India-Russia cooperation in pharmaceutical sector is also expanding rapidly with Indian companies closely engaging with Russian partners to develop cooperation under the Russian ‘Pharma 2020 programme’.
On the sidelines of the Commission’s meeting, an Indian company Wockhardt and a Russian company PharmEco signed an agreement for joint project for insulin production in Russia under the Pharma 2020 programme.
Student and faculty exchange, cultural cooperation and tourism have emerged as new areas for bilateral cooperation, it said, noting that there has been 20 per cent increase in the number of Indian students studying in Russia, while there has been 14 per cent increase in Russian tourist visiting India in recent months.
It further said that a series of activities were being planned to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the erstwhile USSR (now Russian Federation) in 2017.
“There will be a new emphasis on promoting cooperation among various states in India and federal regions in Russia, especially the Far East region of Russia- as attractive investment destinations,” it added.