Narendra Modi, Emmanuel Macron inaugurate UP's biggest solar power plant, take boat ride in Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the biggest solar power plant of Uttar Pradesh and took in the cultural sites and activities of Varanasi on the fourth day of Macron's visit.

The French president is on a maiden four-day visit to India, during which he held bilateral talks with Modi and called on external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, signed a framework agreement on the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP), attended the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and visited the Taj Mahal.

Modi receives Macron in Varanasi

Modi received Macron and his wife in Varanasi on Monday, officials said. Flanked by Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, public representatives and state government officials, Modi accorded a warm welcome to Macron as he alighted from his special Falcon aircraft at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.

Modi arrived at the airport in a special Indian Air Force (IAF) plane minutes ahead of the visiting foreign dignitary. After a while, both Modi and Macron flew in a chopper to Dadarkalan in Mirzapur, where they jointly inaugurated a solar power plant which has been built with the help of a French company.

Modi, Macron inaugurate UP's biggest solar plant

Modi and Macron then went on to inaugurate the biggest solar power plant of Uttar Pradesh in Mirzapur district. The 100 MW plant will be producing 75 MW electricity for the time being.

The two leaders unveiled the inaugural plaque in the presence of Union Minister Anupriya Patel, Adityanath and French first lady Brigitte Macron, besides others.

The power plant has been built at a cost of Rs 650 crore in Dadarkala over a stretch of 380 acres in the Vindhya mountain range. The plant has 1.18 lakh solar panels and the power produced from here will be transmitted to the Jigna Power sub-station of the power corporation.

Officials of the plant informed Modi and Macron that the generation of power will begin with the first sun rays and the plant will shut down with sunset. The plant has 3,18,650 solar plates with each plate having a generation capacity of 315 watts. The plant was completed in flat 18 months, an official told IANS. This power plant can feed 1.5 lakh households every day.

"Walking the talk on green future for the world and towards fulfilling the target of 100 Gigawatt of electricity in India from solar energy by 2022! Narendra Modi and President of France, Emmanuel Macron jointly inaugurated the 100 MW Solar Power Plant at Mirzapur," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar ‏said after the inauguration.

French president gets a glimpse of cultural heritage in Varanasi

Macron enjoyed a boat ride with Modi on the Ganga with a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of the temple city of Varanasi. Macron, who had spent time at the Taj Mahal with his wife Brigitte on Sunday, was given a traditional welcome with the showering of flower petals, a shehnai recital and chanting of mantras before he took a decked-up boat which ferried him, Modi and Adityanath between Assi and Dashwamedh ghats.

People and school-leaders gathered in large numbers along the ghats waving flags of India and France while artistes enacted scenes from Ramleela and the episode of the first sermon by Lord Buddha to his five disciples.

Right from the open auditorium of the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Trade Facilitation Centre to the ghats, artists put up an impressive show before Macron and Modi.

After reaching the DDU centre from the LBS International Airport, Macron visited the handloom and handicraft exhibition at the textile museum and enjoyed Chitrakoot, a play based on Hindu scripture Ramcharitmanas which was staged in the open auditorium. It showcased the life of Lord Ram during his 14-year exile.

Arriving to the tune of a 'shehnai' at the Deendayal Hastkala Sankul in Badalalpur, the French president evinced a keen interest in handicrafts and heritage of the culturally-rich city.

Accompanied by Modi, who explained to his guest the various craft forms, he was also shown as to how the world-renowned Banarsi sarees were weaved. The carpets of Bhadohi, which form another major industry of the region, also caught the interest of the visiting dignitary.

Devotees take the blessings of a holy man standing next to a life size banner welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi. AP

Devotees take the blessings of a holy man standing next to a life-size banner welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi. AP

The two leaders also sat down briefly for a cultural troupe's display before leaving for their next destination. Couplets of the Ramcharitmanas were recited and Ramlila was staged at Tulsi Ghat. The Ram Rajyabhishek (anointment of Lord Ram) was performed by traditional artistes under the guidance of chief priest of Sankatmochan Temple, Vishwambhar Nath Mishra.

On reaching Assi Ghat, Macron was given a traditional welcome with the showering of petals, a shehnai recital and chanting of 'shukla yajurveda' mantras. He was shown the 'Pushpak Viman' as sounds of 'shankh' (conch shell) and 'damru' (pellet drum), and chants of 'Har Har Mahadev' reverberated through the air.

After boarding 'Bajra' boat for a 20-minute ride with the prime minister, Macron watched the episodes of Ramleela and recital of Ramcharitmanas by artistes while passing through Tulsi Ghat. At Prabhu and Chetsingh ghats, the episode of the first sermon by Lord Buddha to his five disciples was enacted.

Naga Sadhus with 'Bhasmi Shringar' were present at Akhada Sri Niranjini Ghat. Recital of Sant Kabir's poetries was done at Mansarovar Ghat and Banaras Gharanas' Kathak and classical instrumental music were performed at Pandey and Chausatti ghats. The folk music and dance performances were appreciated by Macron before the end of his boat ride at Dashaswamedh Ghat.

A 50-feet high cutout of Modi and Macron by local artists was put up at the Tulsi Ghat and posters dotted the city showing the two leaders waving, with Eiffel Tower and Varanasi ghat in the background. They carried the tagline 'welcome to the cultural capital of India'.

The giant cutout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron at Tulsi Ghat. PTI

The giant cutout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron at Tulsi Ghat. PTI

Paintings of Ganga ghats on the stairs leading to them were put up along with massive 'alpanas' (colourful motifs) using flowers and colours, prepared by the students of Kashi Vidyapeeth. Through the 'alpanas', an effort was made to project symbols of development works and the friendship between two countries.

Modi also flagged off a train service between Maduadih and Patna. He then held a public rally in Kashi, where he spoke of the various achievements of the Centre and the Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government.

"I am happy to be in Kashi and inaugurate development projects that will benefit the citizens," Modi said at the rally. " Our aim is to give homes to eight lakh families in Uttar Pradesh. The Yogi Adityanath has worked to provide houses to the poorest of the poor," he said, adding that work is happening quickly to develop Banaras as well. He also spoke of the defence manufacturing initiatives by the Centre and the UP government.

He also congratulated the state government for taking "special care" of farmers.

With inputs from agencies

Published Date: Mar 12, 2018 18:54 PM | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2018 18:54 PM

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