Kathmandu, June 2: Wide-ranging areas of bilateral relations and cooperation between Nepal and India have been reviewed during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s visit to India.
PM Dahal held bilateral delegation-level talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi yesterday. The talks were held in cordial and friendly atmosphere characterizing the age-old friendly ties between the two countries, according to a press release issued by the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, India.
The two Prime Ministers reviewed the wide-ranging areas of bilateral relations and cooperation, including trade and transit; hydropower, power trade and transmission lines; cross-border railways, motorable bridges, petroleum pipelines and ICPs; irrigation, river training, inundation and flood control; agriculture; culture and civil aviation. They expressed commitment to sustain the momentum of engagement in diverse areas and further strengthen the friendly relations based on equality, mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit.
Similarly, the two sides reviewed the progress of ongoing projects with a view to timely completion of them. The two Prime Ministers directed activating all bilateral mechanisms in order to expedite the works in their respective areas of competence and carry forward the two-country cooperation.
Groundbreaking of significant projects
The two Prime Ministers remotely inaugurated and performed the groundbreaking of following projects: a) Handing-taking over of Kurtha-Bijalpura section of railway line; b) Flagging off the inaugural-run of Indian cargo train to Nepal on the newly built Bathnaha-Biratnagar, Nepal Customs Yard railway; c)Groundbreaking of Integrated Check Posts at Bhairahawa (Nepal) -Sunauli (India); d)Inauguration of Integrated Check Post at Nepalgunj (Nepal)-Rupaidiha (India); e) Groundbreaking of phase II of the Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline project; and f) Groundbreaking of 400KV Butwal-Gorakhpur Transmission Line.
Moreover, the two Prime Ministers also witnessed the exchange of the following documents: a) Treaty of Transit between Nepal and India; b) MOU for the development of the Integrated Check Post at Dodhara-Chandani; c) MOU on Cooperation in the Field of Petroleum Infrastructure; d) MOU between the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) of Nepal and Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSIFS) of India; e) MOU for the Development of Phukot-Karnali 480 MW Hydro-electricity Project; f) Project Development Agreement (PDA) of Lower Arun 669 MW Hydro- electricity Project, and g) MOU between National Clearing House Limited Nepal (NCHL) and National Payment Company India Limited (NPCIL) for cross-border payments.
Nepal requests for additional air entry routes
On the occasion, Nepal’s request for additional air entry routes was also discussed by PM Dahal and his Indian counterpart. PM Dahal welcomed India’s positive indication of air-entry route for bilateral flights and requested for approval of high-altitude additional air-entry route from Mahendranagar. He also requested for India’s positive response towards operationalizing the Instrumental Landing System (ILS) procedure for smooth operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport and enhancing flight safety and efficiency.
The two sides expressed satisfaction that the agreement on the long-term power trade completed during the visit will streamline the procedures for the power trade and make it more predictable. The Indian Prime Minister stated that India aims to increase the quantum of hydropower import from Nepal to India to 10,000 MW in the next 10 years.
Likewise, the Indian Prime Minister requested for approval of additional 1200 MW of hydropower for export from Nepal to India including the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower project at the earliest.
PM Dahal welcomed the decision of India to facilitate the first trilateral power transaction from Nepal to Bangladesh through Indian grid with an export of 40 MW of power. Both sides committed to greater cooperation at sub-regional level including in the energy sector. The Indian government was thanked for the approval of the transmission line projects proposed under the 4th Lines of Credit (LOC-IV).
Discussion was held on the problem of flood and inundation in the areas along Nepal-India border and the existing bilateral mechanisms was instructed for its early convening to take up necessary measures for effective prevention of the flood and inundation before the onset of monsoon.
It was noted by both Prime Ministers that the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) as envisaged in the Mahakali Treaty is in accordance with the aspirations of people of Nepal and India. In this context, it was agreed that the concerned officials of both governments shall expedite the bilateral discussions towards early finalization of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the PMP within a period of three months. The Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA) shall submit the finalized DPR to both governments. The two governments and their relevant entities shall take the lead in arranging finance for the PMP. The modalities of implementation shall be concluded within one year after approval of the DPR by the two governments.
Both sides welcomed the construction of the Tanakpur link canal and agreed that water will be released from Tanakpur barrage to irrigation command area of Nepal through this canal in a phase-wise manner, based on the readiness of the facilities on the Nepali side.
The two Prime Ministers further emphasized on promoting trade and investment between the two countries. Mentioning the issue of large trade deficit faced by Nepal, PM Dahal requested for non-reciprocal access for Nepal’s agricultural and primary products to the Indian market. The two Prime Ministers directed for early convening of the Commerce Secretary level mechanism to address the issues related to trade, including the review of Treaty of Trade. They directed the concerned officials to work towards early finalization of MOU on mutual recognition of certificates and accrediting of the testing labs.
PM Dahal requested Indian government for the lifting of countervailing duty on Nepali jute products.
An agreement was reached for the extension of Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline up to Chitwan and construction of a new cross-border petroleum pipeline from Siliguri to Jhapa on grant assistance of India.
The two leaders flagged-off the cargo rail service between Bathnaha and Biratnagar, Nepal Customs Yards. On the occasion,
PM Dahal thanked his Indian counterpart for constructing cross-border railway links, including the extension of passenger rail service between Jayanagar-Kurtha to Bijalpura under Indian grant assistance. PM Dahal also welcomed the offer of training and capacity building of Nepali railway personnel for sustained operation of these railways.
The Indian government was requested to expedite the work of GP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, establishment of Nepal Institute of Technology in Sudurpaschim of Nepal, and to construct Cricket Stadium and Sports Village in Fapla, Dhangadi under the grant assistance of India. The Indian side agreed to construct two motorable bridges over the Mahakali River in Sirsa (Parsuram Dham – Purna Giri Mai) and Jhulaghat under grant assistance.
Cooperation in agriculture sector
The press statement further mentioned that the two Prime Ministers agreed to promote cooperation in the field of agriculture, including research and development, capacity building, natural farming and use of nano-fertilizers. PM Dahal thanked Indian government for the gift of improved breed of livestock and further requested for germ plasm of major cash crops particularly sugarcane and coffee.
During the talks, it was noted with satisfaction on the understanding reached in February last year on the supply of urea and DAP from India to Nepal. Strengthening this cooperation further, both leaders agreed to set up a fertilizer plant in Nepal with the participation of public and private sector entities from Nepal and India to meet the fertilizer needs of both Nepali and Indian farmers and with adequate assurance of market in both the countries. The two Prime Ministers directed the concerned authorities to explore the viability of such a plant.
Even the boundary matters were discussed by the two Prime Minister. PM Dahal urged his Indian counterpart to resolve the boundary matters through the established bilateral diplomatic mechanisms.
Moreover, PM Dahal commended India’s G20 presidency and the SCO Chairmanship. Indian Prime Minister Modi thanked Nepal for joining the International Big Cat Alliance as its founding member.
PM Dahal extended a cordial invitation to the Indian Prime Minister for a visit to Nepal at an early date. Modi accepted the invitation with pleasure.
Earlier in the morning, PM Dahal offered homage at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. In the afternoon, he called on the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.
Indian investors requested for investment in Nepal
On Thursday evening, PM Dahal attended Nepal-India Business Summit jointly organized by Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and addressed the gathering of prominent industrialists, investors and businesspersons. Addressing the Summit, PM Dahal stated that the abundance of natural resources, large pool of human capital, a promising market in the neighbourhood together with sound policy and regulatory framework make Nepal ideally an attractive destination for investment.
He called for joining in value chains and take advantage of the readily available economic opportunities in Nepal in mutually beneficial areas.
In the Summit, Minister for Commerce and Industry of the Government of India, Piyush Goyal, said that Nepal and India have unmatched complementarities to prosper and grow economically and offer promising opportunities for investment and trade.
PM Dahal is on a four-day official visit to India from 31 May to 3 June at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.