State level and Rail projects on cards to boost Indo-Russia ties

NEW DELHI: India-Russia relations will venture into a new vista with leaderships from both sides pledging to work in multi sector developmental sectors.
The traditional ties have been given a major boost during the bilateral meeting held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek on Thursday.
Ministry of External Affairs officials said the Russian side has evinced interest to work with India for modernisation of the Indian Railways.
In fact, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale also has said on June 13 that : “In this regard, Russians are doing a study for the upgrading of the Nagpur-Secunderabad line”.
In 2017, Russian Railways President Oleg Belozerov and the Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran had inked a pact on the preparation of a feasibility study for a high-speed rail service between Nagpur and Secunderabad.
Steps have been taken up for the modernisation of the 575-km Nagpur-Secunderabad railway line, especially in order to increase the speed of passenger trains to 200 km per hour.
Railways have been working with various other countries as well to bring about turnaround and qualitative improvement in the running of the locomotives. Germany has been given charge for the Chennai-Kazipet route by Indian Railways and China is working on the Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru section.
President Putin has invited Prime Minister Modi to be the main guest for the Eastern Economic Forum at the Vladivostok in early September.
Mr Modi has also for his part conveyed that business delegations as well as representatives of key Indian states will visit Vladivostok and the Russian far east prior to Prime Minister’s own visit in early September.
MEA officials have said the Indian government also understands that the Russian Far East region is extremely “resource rich, besides oil and gas it has a number of other minerals”.
There is also a huge potential of timber and this sector also will be explored.
During the bilateral at Bishkek, the two leaders reviewed trade and investment relations and they noted that ties “are on an upward trajectory”.
Explaining further on this Foreign Secretary Gokhale had told reporters ” it’s a fact that targets that we have set for trade and investment have been exceeded and that our energy cooperation is going well”.
President Putin mentioned about the discussions going on between the Russian companies and the Indian consortium for the Vankor cluster which is supposed to be one of the biggest deposits of oil and gas in Russia.
“Russia and India share a long history of relations, but their potential is far from exhausted, especially in the field of science and technology. Thanks to the support of the governments of both countries, there are good prospects for bringing the scientific and technical cooperation to a new level, providing not only world leadership in modern industries, but also an improvement in the quality of life of people in both India and Russia,” a diplomatic source said.
The Russian export to India, according to sources, amounts to USD 6.45 billion, an increase by 21.5 per cent and import from India was USD 2.91 billion also a northbound increase by 21 per cent.
From January to October 2018, Russia-India trade increased by 17 per cent as compared to the relevant period in 2017 and amounted to USD 8.5 billion with Russian export having risen by 21.1 per cent (5.9 billion USD), import by 8.7 per cent (2.6 billion USD).
Russian export to India mostly consists of machinery and technical production, products of chemical industry, gems, mineral fuel, metals and metal items.
The two countries continue working to further liberalise customs regime within the “Green Corridor” project and put into operation the International North-South Transport Corridor in order to stimulate bilateral trade.
Atomic energy is another area of the Russia-India cooperation, sources said.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation have also established a permanent mechanism aimed at eliminating trade, economic and investment barriers.
During the Modi-Putin bilateral engagement, the Prime Minister told the Russian leader that Russia, India and China (RIC) should hold trilateral talks on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Summit in Osaka in Japan on June 28 and 29.
“I hope we will soon get together in Japan. I also think that we should hold talks in the RIC (Russia-India-China) format there,” the Prime Minister has said.
Deputy Prime Minister and the Special Representative of President Putin for the Arctic region in the Far East, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev will visit India later this month and the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Consultation headed by the External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Indian side will also be held.
Both sides are also keen for establishing institutional mechanisms for cooperation between two sides on energy, manpower and trade and investment.