India, Nepal sign 7 pacts to boost ties
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepalese PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" held "comprehensive, constructive and future-oriented" talks on Thursday at Hyderabad House here, following which the two nations inked seven pacts, including in infrastructure and connectivity and concluded a long-term power trade agreement under which India will be importing 10,000 MW of electricity from Nepal in the next 10 years.
Amid increasing Chinese influence on Nepal, both nations signed the Treaty of Transit, which will give Nepal access to Indian inland waterways apart from new railway lines. New Delhi announced the ramping up of infrastructure and development assistance to Nepal, including in the spheres of railway and inland water connectivity, power transmission, hydropower projects, irrigation, integrated checkpoints and financial connectivity.
India will also fund three power transmission corridors under a $680 million line of credit to Nepal. It was also decided that hydropower will be supplied from Nepal to Bangladesh via the Indian grid and the three countries are expected to ink a pact in due course.
In his remarks, Mr Modi said his decade-old HIT (Highways, I-ways and Transways) vision has become a reality and that talks were held to make the relationship a "Super HIT" now, adding that efforts will be made to take the bilateral ties between India and Nepal to "Himalayan heights".
On the "boundary issue", the PM said the two sides will resolve it between them, while Mr Prachanda pressed for the same as per "established bilateral diplomatic mechanisms".
Nepal considers a few border areas of India’s Uttarakhand to be part of the Himalayan nation.
In his media remarks emphasising the religious and cultural ties between India and Nepal, Mr Modi also called for expediting projects relating to the Ramayana circuit.
"The religious and cultural ties between India and Nepal are very old and very strong. In order to further strengthen this beautiful link, Prachanda ji and I have decided that the projects related to Ramayana circuit should be expedited," PM Modi said
Asked whether the China issue and the Indian concerns and sensitivities over it figured in the talks, foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said at a special media briefing that the two Prime Ministers discussed "other developments and challenges posed to the India-Nepal ties", thereby giving a veiled indication that Beijing’s role in the region had indeed been discussed.
The Nepalese Prime Minister, in his media remarks, praised the "remarkable transformation of India’s economic landscape" under the leadership of Mr Modi. He also described the bilateral relationship as "age-old, multifaceted, civilisational and cultural" and said both sides had accepted the principles of sovereign equality, mutual respect and a commitment to further strengthen ties.
Mr Prachanda requested that India import an additional 1,200 MW of power from Nepal over and above the current 450 MW. He also requested for measures to reduce Nepal’s increasing trade deficit with India, non-reciprocal market access for Nepalese agricultural goods and the removal of anti-dumping duties on Nepalese jute products. He also pushed for increased air connectivity between the two nations.
Several projects were launched on the occasion, including the handing over of the Kurtha-Bijalpura section of the railway line, the inaugural run of an Indian Railways cargo train from Bathnaha (India) to Nepal customs yard, which is the newly constructed rail link under Indian grant, the inauguration of integrated checkposts (ICPs) at Nepalgunj (Nepal) and Rupaidiha (India), the ground breaking ceremony of ICPs at Bhairahawa (Nepal) and Sonauli (India), the ground breaking ceremony of the Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline phase II facilities and the ground breaking ceremony of the Indian portion of Gorakhpur-Butwal transmission line.
India and Nepal signed MoUs for cooperation in the field of petroleum infrastructure, for the development of infrastructure at the Dodhara Chandani check post along the Indo-Nepal border, the Phukot Karnali Hydroelectric Project, cross-border payments and an MoU between the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service and the Institute of Foreign Affairs, along with a project development agreement for the Lower Arun Hydroelectric Project.