Nepal and India reached a slew of agreements and launched over half a dozen projects during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s official visit to India to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries.
The agreements between Nepal and India and the launch of various bilateral projects were reached after the delegation level talks held between Nepal and India in the Nilgiri room of the Indian Prime Minister’s State Guest House in the presence of Prime Minister Dahal and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Both the prime ministers of Nepal and India jointly addressed a press conference held at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi and announced the signing of various agreements and MoUs after the bilateral meeting. Among other things, the agreements and MoUs seek to extend trade and transit treaty between Nepal and India and construct the Siliguri-Jhapa Petroleum Pipeline.
The two countries signed Treaty of Transit and Project Development Agreement of Lower Arun Hydroelectricity Project and reached a number of MoUs including for the development of infrastructure at Dodhara Chandani check post along India-Nepal Border. Separate MoUs were reached between Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSIFS) and the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Nepal, NPCIL and NCHL-Nepal for cross border payments and NHPC and VUCL Nepal for the development of Phukot- Karnali Hydroelectric Project.
The two prime ministers also virtually laid down the foundation for the construction of Sunauli Bhairahawa Integrated Check Post, a petroleum pipeline from Amlekhganj to Lothar in Chitwan and Gorakhpur-New Butwal 400 KV double circuit transmission lines.
Addressing the joint press meeting, Prime Minister Dahal thanked his Indian counterpart Modi for his positive response to his request for approval of the import of additional 1200 megawatts of power from Nepal including the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi. As per the long-term power trade agreement signed on Wednesday, India will import 10,000 MW of power from Nepal in the next 10 years. “This is a major development in enhancing cooperation in this area based on the Joint Vision Statement that the two Prime Ministers issued in April 2022”, Prime Minister Dahal said.
Prime Minister Dahal also appreciated India’s willingness to facilitate the export of hydropower from Nepal to Bangladesh through India. “We have agreed that export of up to 50 MW of power from Nepal to Bangladesh via India would commence soon and the three countries would work out an agreement to this effect soon”, he said. It may be noted that the Project Development Agreement for the development of 669 MW Lower Arun Hydropower Project and the MoU on the development of 480 MW Phukot Karnali hydropower project was also signed between the two countries during the visit.
Prime Minister Dahal shared that agreement had also been reached to advance the Pancheshwar Multi-purpose Project by concluding the DPR within three months. “For this purpose, we have directed our respective officials to expedite bilateral discussions. The modalities of Implementation will be concluded within one year after the approval of DPR by the two governments,” he said.
Prime Minister Dahal also welcomed India’s positive indication of air-entry route for bilateral flights, while requesting for approval of high-altitude additional air-entry route from Mahendranagar at an early date. “We appreciate India’s approval for near-border flight operation in the Gautam Buddha international Airport in Bhairahawa, Nepal through publishing ILS procedure in the AIP to enhance safety and efficiency of flight operation,” he said. He also shared Nepal’s interest of having regular flights from Nepal’s newly built international airports of Bhairahawa and Pokhara to and from various cities of India.
Prime Minister Dahal also informed that they also discussed the establishment of a fertilizer plant in Nepal in joint venture and they will try their best to work together for the successful completion of the project.
Also addressing the joint press conference, Indian Prime Minister Modi said that he would work to give a height equal to that of mountains for the Nepal-India relations. “We will resolve all issues including the border issues or others as per the same spirit. To further deepen these relations, Prime Minister Dahal and I have wanted to expedite a project relating to the Ramayana Circuit,” Modi added.
Modi said, “Nine years ago, I had talked about the ‘HIT’ friendship between India-Nepal relations – Highways, I-ways, and Trans-ways. Our partnership has bloomed since and we want to make our partnership a ‘Superhit’, which is what these projects will achieve.”
“Nepal’s first integrated check point (ICP) was built in Birgunj and the trans-border petroleum pipeline has been developed between India and Nepal. Broad-gauge railway has been established and a new transmission line is built in the border area. We are importing 450 MW electricity from Nepal,” the Indian PM added.
Prime Minister Modi also announced that a transit agreement reached shall ensure rail route and waterways access to the Nepali side from this. He further stated that an agreement had been made to provide training to officials of Nepal’s railway department.
Modi termed that the cross-border digital payment agreement shall benefit students, tourists, pilgrims and medical travelers in the two countries. He said that a landmark vision document had been made for the energy sector cooperation in recent years and a long term power trade agreement had been concluded between Nepal and India on the same basis. In his speech Modi said that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to establish a chemical fertilizer company in Nepal under the Nepal-India mutual cooperation.
Prime Minister Dahal, who reached New Delhi on Wednesday on a four-day official visit to the southern neighbor, paid a courtesy call on the Indian President and Vice President on Thursday. He is scheduled to visit the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Friday and return home to Kathmandu via New Delhi on Saturday.
List of Outcomes of PM Dahal’s India visit
1. Handing over of Kurtha-Bijalpura section of railway line.
2. Inaugural run of an Indian railway cargo train from Bathnaha (India) to Nepal Customs Yard which is the newly constructed rail link under Indian grant.
3. Inauguration of Integrated Checkposts (ICPs) at Nepalgunj (Nepal) and Rupaidiha (India).
4. Ground breaking ceremony of ICPs at Bhairahawa (Nepal) and Sonauli (India).
5. Ground breaking ceremony of phase-II facilities under Motihari-Amlekhgunj Petroleum Pipeline.
6. Ground breaking ceremony of Indian portion of Gorakhpur-Butwal Transmission Line being built by a JV of PGCIL and NEA.
1. Treaty of Transit between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal
2. MoU between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal for cooperation in the field of Petroleum Infrastructure
3. MoU between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal for the development of infrastructure at Dodhara Chandani check post along India-Nepal Border
4. MoU between Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSIFS) and the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Nepal
5. MoU between NPCIL & NCHL, Nepal for cross border payments
6. Project Development Agreement of Lower Arun Hydroelectric Project between M/S SJVN and Investment Board of Nepal
7. MoU between NHPC and VUCL, Nepal for the development of Phukot- Karnali Hydroelectric Project