Chandigarh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to receive French President Francois Hollande in Chandigarh on January 24.The French president, who will be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, will land in Chandigarh first to begin his India tour. Police sources said that Modi will receive Hollande at the technical area of the Chandigarh Air Force Station (AFS). Both leaders will spend next few hours in Chandigarh before leaving for New Delhi in the evening.
Hollande had expressed his desire to visit Chandigarh, one of the few planned cities in the country, designed by famous French architect Le Corbusier in the 1950s and 1960s. President Hollande is likely to visit Chandigarh's 'Capitol Complex', Rock Garden, Sector 17 Plaza (the city's commercial and business centre), Tagore Theatre and the Le Corbusier Centre in Sector 19 (where the master-planner and his team worked and conceptualized the city). The exact itinerary of Hollande's visit will be finalised on Wednesday and Thursday (January 13-14) when the advance team, including security officials, of the French President arrive here, a senior official of the Chandigarh Administration said. The French Ambassador to India had recently visited the city in preparation for the president's visit. Preparations are in full swing and security arrangements are being worked out for the French President's visit. A conference is also likely to be held at the hotel. Sources said the French President will stay at the Taj Hotel in Chandigarh's Sector 17 area for the few hours that he will be in the city. Last year, when Modi made his first visit to the city after becoming prime minister, the city's administration was reprimanded by the union home ministry for going over-board on the security part and virtually locking in the entire city. The Chandigarh Administration is careful this time that nothing of that sort is repeated even though two VVIPs will be here on the same day. The over-zealous administration had ordered shutting down of schools and sealed certain roads and parts of the city. Even the city's cremation ground became out of bounds for city residents. All these measures, which harassed residents, drew considerable flak, forcing Modi to tweet and apologise for the same and even order a probe into the matter. Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier, whose real name was Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, led a team of European planners to design Chandigarh. The country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru wanted the city to be a symbol of post-independence, modern India. Corbusier planned the city on the lines of a human body - the Capitol Complex was to be the head of the body, the commercial centre its heart, the industrial area its hand and the intellectual centre being the parkland. Each sector in the city was planned to be self-sufficient with markets, institutions and other services. The Capitol Complex was conceived by Corbusier himself. The main buildings here, the Secretariat Complex, the Legislative Assembly complex and the High Court Complex, were completed during his time. The 'Open Hand' monument, the symbol of Chandigarh, is also in this complex. The unbuilt buildings from Corbusier's drawing table included the Governor House, Museum of Knowledge, an 11-storey building in Sector 17 and a football stadium near Sector 26, among others.