Lalu Prasad begins tour to woo Japanese investment

January 12th, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Railways Minister Lalu Prasad left on a seven-day visit to Japan and Singapore late Sunday during which he will seek investment for his nationwide dedicated freight corridor project and ride the bullet train to see if it can be introduced in India, officials said.The Japan International Cooperation Agency has already agreed in principle for a loan of some Rs.15,000 crore (Rs.150 billion/$3 billion) for the freight corridor project and the minister will seek to clinch the deal during the visit, the officials added.

The corridor, criss-crossing the country, will sharply reduce the time taken for transportation of goods from Mumbai to New Delhi, for example, from 60 hours to around 35 hours, officials explained.

“Our minister’s turnaround story is famous all over. So he will be delivering lectures in both Japan and Singapore on how he managed to bring surplus to the Indian Railways,” a senior official in the ministry said.

One such lecture will be delivered at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, the official added.

“But his visit is mainly to attract Japanese investment for the freight corridor project and for understanding disaster management techniques. He will also travel on the famous bullet train and see if it is feasible in India.”

Those accompanying Lalu Prasad on the two-nation visit include Minister of State for Railways R. Velu and Railway Board Chairman K.C. Jena.

According to officials, the team is scheduled to attend a workshop on disaster management on Jan 15 in Tokyo. The minister is also likely to meet top officials of Mitsubishi in Osaka.

“This workshop is also very important as our ministry is trying to gear up for any kind of eventuality in the backdrop of the recent terror strikes in Mumbai,” said an official.

According to Tehseen Munnawar, the media advisor to the railways minister, Lalu Prasad is also well prepared to ensure that he gets his basic staple food during his stay in Japan and Singapore.

A strict vegetarian now, he is expected to carry Litti Chokha (a staple food for people from Bihar) and homemade clarified butter during the trip. “Laluji always carries his own stuff whenever he is on a foreign tour,” said his media advisor.

“When he visited Pakistan last year, then also he carried his own food,” Munnawar told IANS. “He has very simple taste and generally avoids outside food. He is a strict vegetarian.”

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