The UK is set to back green growth in India’s Mumbai-Bangalore corridor, says minister
By Megan Darby
The Mumbai-Bangalore economic corridor could become a major hub for low carbon development, with UK backing.
That was the hope expressed by UK climate change minister Greg Barker following a visit to India earlier this week.
Barker joined UK foreign secretary William Hague and chancellor George Osborne on a tour of India to highlight trade and investment opportunities.
“While the focus is relentlessly on growth and development, they [Indian business leaders and politicians] are well aware that that growth has to be sustainable,” Barker told RTCC. “Climate change featured strongly in all the conversations I had.”
As well as announcing three commercial deals between the two countries, the UK delegation raised the prospect of sponsoring the Mumbai-Bangalore corridor, a target area for economic growth. The Indian government hopes to generate 2.5 million jobs and 12 per cent of the country’s GDP from the corridor, which covers nine other cities.
The idea has been championed by Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja, two of the richest men in Britain and owners of the mighty Hinduja Group. They told the Telegraph the Mumbai-Bangalore corridor could be a showcase for what UK industries can do in India.
While there are no firm proposals yet, Barker said UK low carbon specialists are contributing to a feasibility study due out in the autumn.
“With the UK as a partner in this corridor, we can create a genuinely globally important hub for low carbon development,” he added. “We need to show as a partner in growth that there really is no trade-off between growth and low carbon development.”
Efficient use of resources and domestic renewable energy production that does not rely on imports are “drivers of the long term prosperity of the Indian economy,” Barker said.
The UK visit followed hot on the heels of prime minister Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in May.
Voters were won over by Modi’s vision of prosperity for India, which included a push to generate more energy.
Modi’s first budget, released on Thursday, included a boost for renewables.
While clean energy technology forms part of Modi’s development agenda, his position on global climate change negotiations has yet to be revealed. Barker said there had been no detailed discussions on the subject on this week’s visit, but energy secretary Ed Davey will have the opportunity to bring it up on a visit planned for later this month.
As the third largest polluter in the world, India’s contribution to carbon emission reductions will be critical to a global deal.