Overwhelmed by Chandigarh, French President Francois Hollande said “It’s a beautiful city”. In an informal and exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, Hollande, who was about to leave for Rock garden from Taj Hotel in Sector 17, said: “Chandigarh is a gift to India by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. He has done a fine work.”
Expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hollande said: “I am thankful for being called to this city as a part of my three-day visit to India.”
The French authorities have of late indicated that they would take this the “old connection” with Chandigarh forward by make it the best smart city as part of Modi’s ambitious plan of developing 100 Indian cities.
Hollande was surrounded by Indian and French delegates as he ventured out in the hotel lobby. He spent around 25 minutes getting pictures clicked with the people present in the lobby. Some even jostled to get themselves clicked with the French President.
Impressed by the city’s architecture, Hollande said in his speech: “The city is a creation of our architect. He put his vision and planning and came up with a marvel in India.”
He also said that Capitol Complex was among the 17 nominations forwarded to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for heritage status.
“I wish Chandigarh, which is an admirable work of Le Corbusier, be recognised as UNESCO world heritage city,” said Hollande.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also highlighted that Chandigarh and France had a special connection. France served as a birth chord for Chandigarh given the contribution of Le Corbusier.
During their visit to Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, Modi and Hollande congratulated the Indo-French team for their joint research work leading to the archaeological discovery. They underlined that the example of successful bilateral collaboration illustrated the long-standing cultural ties and enduring collaboration between India and France in rediscovering, preserving and promoting the cultural heritage shared by both the nations.
Smart City push
At the France Business Summit held at Taj Hotel, an MoU was signed between the Agence Française de Développement and the Government of the Union Territory of Chandigarh on technical cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development which will help Chandigarh develop as a smart city. French experts in the field of urban transport, water and waste treatment, solar energy, urban planning and architecture and heritage will assist the city in its smart city development plans.