Chandigarh: Chandigarh was put under maximum security cover on Saturday ahead of the arrival of French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday afternoon.
Security around the Hotel Taj, where the French president will stay during his five-hour stop in the city, was at its maximum with scores of armed commandos and policemen swarming the place.
Hollande, along with Modi, will meet and address CEOs of French and Indian companies at a business summit to be held here on Sunday.
Security bunkers have been put up around the hotel complex with commandos with automatic weapons.
The same security has been provided at the Rock Garden and Capitol Complex in Sector 1 and the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Sector 10. Both places will be visited by the leaders.
Chandigarh’s home secretary Anurag Aggarwal told the media here that the French president will arrive first in Chandigarh from Paris.
Modi will arrive an hour later and will meet and welcome the French president at Chandigarh’s famous Rock Garden.
After the business summit at the hotel, Modi will leave for New Delhi first while the French president will depart around 6 p.m., official sources said.
The French president is coming to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade at New Delhi’s Rajpath on January 26.
Both leaders will meet at the Rock Garden, created by city resident Nek Chand entirely from waste material, and will spend about 15 minutes there.
They will then go to the Capitol Complex nearby, which was designed by Chandigarh’s founder-architect, Frenchman Le Corbusier, in the 1950s.
Hollande and Modi will then proceed to the Government Museum and Art Gallery complex in Sector 10 here to see Corbusier’s vision for the city and rare artefacts.
Later, they will join CEOs from France and India at a business summit to be held at Hotel Taj in Sector 17 here. At least 25 business heads from both the countries will attend the summit here.
Tight security arrangements are being put into place with the two VVIPs arriving in the city at the same time.
Intelligence agencies recently warned of the possibility of a ‘lone wolf’ attack by the Islamic State terror outfit during the visit of the French president.
A full dress rehearsal of security arrangement and VVIP movement was held by security agencies, including the prime minister’s Special Protection Group (SPG) here.
Hollande will see a spruced-up city, with the Chandigarh administration going into an overdrive since the past 10 days to present the city’s best.
Walls along the roads that the dignitary will be taking have been painted in terracotta colour.
Even the walls of private houses, palatial bungalows, government and other buildings, which face the roads that Hollande’s entourage will take, have been given a fresh coat of the colour. Flowers and other arrangements have been made to beautify the city.
The Chandigarh administration, which had been reprimanded by the union home ministry recently for going overboard on the security part and virtually locking in the entire city last September when Modi first visited the city after assuming office, is ensuring 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 several roads and parts of the city. Even the city’s cremation ground became out of bounds for the residents.
All these measures, which caused harassment to residents, drew considerable flak, forcing Modi to tweet and apologise 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.
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.