French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image Credit: AFP

Varanasi: French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a boat ride on the Ganga here on Monday, animatedly talking on the flower-decked double-decker vessel.

Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha, briefed Macron about the history and significance of various ghats along the Ganga.

Macron asked him some questions and Modi promptly responded. The two walked to the Assi Ghat after visiting the Deendayal Handicraft Museum.

The Prime Minister told the French President about various handicrafts on display at the stalls. They briefly halted to hear the locals playing shehnaai. The two retired for lunch at the Nadesar five-star hotel, belonging to the Taj Group.

While Macron stayed back at the hotel to rest, Modi drove to keep his other engagements.

Earlier, Modi and Macron flew to Dadarkala in neighbouring Mirzapur district to inaugurate the biggest solar plant in Uttar Pradesh. As soon as they landed, they were gifted a bright red “chunri” of Goddess Vindhyavasini, the presiding deity of Mirzapur.

The 100MW plant will produce 75MW electricity for now. Holding hands off and on, Modi and Macron unveiled the inaugural plaque in the presence of Union Minister Anupriya Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and French First Lady Brigitte Macron.

The power plant has been built at Dadarkala at a cost of Rs6.5 billion over a stretch of 380 acre in the Vindhyan mountain range.

The plant has 118,000 solar panels and the power produced from here will be transmitted to the Jigna Power Sub-station of the Power Corp.

The electricity produced will be divided into two “A” and “B” sections of Mirzapur and the remaining electricity will be supplied to Allahabad.

Officials told 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 318,650 solar plates, with each plate having a generation capacity of 315 watt. The plant was completed in 18 months, an official said. This power plant can feed power to 150,000 households every day.

The French President reached the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport here in the morning by a special plane and was received by Modi, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Adityanath.

Coinciding with the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India, an Indo-French Centre of Excellence (CoE) was inaugurated in Bengaluru on Monday to impart vocational training to engineers in electricity, automation and energy management.

Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron are on a four-day maiden visit to India since Friday.

The centre has been set up jointly by the French government, French automation company Schneider Electric and the city-based New Horizon College of Engineering.

“The CoE would help in strengthening and upgrading the knowledge and professional skills of teachers and students,” Frederique Vidal, the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, said on the occasion.

For setting up the centre, the French government had deputed a full-time professor for three years to train the city-based college’s professors on automation and energy management at Schneider Electric’s labs and then designed the syllabus.

Through skill development programmes, the centre will also help in preparing students to leverage disruptive technologies to further national growth, said Shrinivas Chebbi, President (Eco-buildings) — Schneider Electric, India.