PUDUCHERRY: A branch office of the Consulate General of France, “ Bureau de France” in Chennai will be operation by October and provide consular services, said Catherine Suard, Consul General at Puducherry and Chennai.
Thanking the government of India for the in-principle approval for its establishment, Suard who assumed charge as Consul General on July 31, said that the number of visas issued by the consulate has been steadily increasing with 80 percent of the applications coming from Chennai. Once the Chennai office is made operational, the visa service in Puducherry consulate will be transferred to the branch office at Chennai, in order to offer a better quality of service to Indian users, particularly in terms of speed of processing all files, said Suard. All files must go through the VFS regional office in that city, including those applications filed in Puducherry. In addition, the French community of Chennai, composed mainly of expatriates, has grown strongly over the last five years, being today of more than 600 people, who require a first level reception. However the most complex administrative tasks will still be handled in Puducherry, she said.
Bureau de France will also involve in business monitoring and economic facilitation. It will host services of Business France, a public operator in charge of supporting French Investors in India and Indian investors in France, adding that French industrial activity in Tamilnadu is extremely important. At the beginning of 2016, there were 118 establishments of French companies in Tamilnadu, which include 29 parent companies of French subsidiaries which chose Chennai as their head quarters and 60 French Industrial establishments are involved in the economic development of Tamilnadu in all sectors, ranging from automotive to construction, food processing and Telecommunications. This means that Chennai has become a strategic location for French companies and for the economic development of India, thanks to their participation in Made in India program.
The Bureau of France will host Campus France, French Institute of India service, in charge of promoting abroad the French Higher Education and training system. Some French officers specialized in education and cultural cooperation, who will coordinate in education and cultural activities.
The consul general said that she would be visiting Bureau de France every week.
Explaining the commitment of France in the Smart City project of Puducherry, Nagpur and Chandigarh, she said that a French Smart cities club connecting French Companies already present in India and are among the world leaders in Smart City related technologies will be established. These companies such as water, energy, transport and mobility, e-governance, social housing with the objective to participate in the “ Make in India “ concept and to promote development based on short –term programs and sustainable development.
With regard to Puducherry, French expert has been fully integrated into the team and many actions have been taken to contribute, support to the 63 projects under the project. French Ambassador in India Alexandre Ziegler will visit Puducherry in the coming weeks, for implementation of AFD project under which France is providing a sift loan of 200 million Euros for water and sanitation project and French smart city club.