Japan has evinced interest in investing in Punjab and partnering the state across key segments of growth and development, with a high-level delegation of the Japanese envoy and Mitsubishi Managing Director meeting Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh here on Thursday to discuss a range of possible areas of investment and collaboration.
The meeting between Captain Amarinder and Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Japan, along with Kazunori Konishi, Managing Director Mitsubishi Heavy Industries India Private Limited, was described by both sides as preliminary but paved the way for more intensive discussions going forward.
Discussions at the meeting, which came within days of the Capt Amarinder government taking over the state’s reins, covered a wide range of subjects, which the two sides agreed to deliberate further to work out a collaborative mechanism.
An official spokesperson said after the meeting that Mitsubishi made a presentation to the Chief Minister listing several important areas for possible investment. These included Power, Smart Cities, (Automated Guideway Transit), Industrial Parks and Captive Power Plants, besides strengthening of some existing projects.
The Chief Minister showed interest in the AGT – a public transportation system based on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) – as a cheaper alternative to Metro Rail to offer an affordable and easy commuting option to people in the congested cities of Punjab, such as Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar.
Captain also discussed development of roads and highways as a key step towards improvement of Punjab’s infrastructure. He also showed interest in Japanese investment in the development of economic corridors in the state.
Another important area that came up for discussion during the meeting was improvement in agriculture and horticulture, with the CM noting that despite small land holdings, Japanese farmers were able to deliver high yields.
Punjab’s farmers could learn from the Japanese and use new methods to adopt a similar approach, he said, adding that the paddy and wheat cycle was no longer viable for the farming community and needed to be replaced with something more lucrative, such as horticulture.
The two sides decided to explore possible cooperation in agriculture and the Chief Minister invited Japanese experts to visit the state, particularly the Punjab Agriculture University, to examine the feasibility of agricultural cooperation. An exchange programme for agricultural scientists could be worked out, he added.
Recalling the cold chain capabilities development programme initiated by his government during his previous chief ministerial tenure, Captain Amarinder suggested reviving the cold chain to drive agricultural exports from Punjab to Japan and other countries.
The grave problem of stubble burning in Punjab was also discussed, with the Japanese team offering solutions, based on their own experience of destroying stubble in a safe and eco-friendly way, to the state government. The Chief Minister was interested in the technology, which allows decomposition of stubble into fertilizer.
Mitsubishi also offered its unique technology for production of power from garbage, which the CM said could be explored as a viable option for the elimination of garbage, especially in urban areas.
Captain Amarinder said he was committed to the modernization of Punjab, in which Japan could join in as an important partner.