Modi, Oli to lay foundation of 900MW power project in Nepal
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli will jointly lay the foundation stone of the 900 MW Arun III hydropower project during a meeting in New Delhi on April 7.
Some key agreements are expected to be signed along with the remote laying of the foundation stone of the hydroelectricity project in Sankhuwasabha district of eastern Nepal during Oli’s state visit beginning on April 6.
The power project has been developed by Sutlej Jala Vidhyut Nigam (SJVN), an Indian state-run utility. The Indian government has released $1 billion to SJVN, which recently started construction of the project that is expected to be completed within five years.
This is the largest hydroelectric project undertaken by the India government in Nepal and it gained momentum after Modi came to power in 2014.
An official familiar with the preparations for Oli’s visit said following delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House between Modi and Oli on April 7, the two leaders will press a button for the formal laying of the foundation for the project.
India will provide a total of $ 1.5 billion for the project which is being constructed on the build, operate, own and transfer ( BOOT) model. Earlier, Modi was expected to visit Nepal to lay the foundation last September but the plan was put off due to sudden political changes in Nepal.
Modi and Oli are also scheduled to inaugurate the Birgunj-Raxaul integrated check post by pressing a switch in New Delhi. The post will provide advanced facilities for trade and commerce.
Former Indian foreign minister SM Krishna had laid the foundation for the post in April 2011 and it was handed over to Nepal just this week. Once the post becomes operational, different routes will be used to import and export goods. The facility will be equipped with gadgets needed to automate customs processes.
An agreement on bulk cargo movement through more transit points between Nepal and India is also due to be signed during Oli’s visit. This facility is currently available only at the Raxual- Birgunj entry point. The agreement will open the doors for importing bulk cargo from third countries directly to Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj via railway.
Oli briefed Parliament on Tuesday about his upcoming visit to India and said he would talk to his Indian counterpart about expediting cooperation through regional organisations such as Saarc and Bimstec and sub-regional groupings such as BBIN.
“Connectivity, including railways and waterways, energy sector, minimising the trade deficit, implementing past agreements and modernisation of agriculture are prioritised in my visit,” he said.
The visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and increasing mutual trust, and also sending out a message that Nepal will address India’s genuine security concerns such as cross-border crimes, terrorist threats, and human trafficking, he said.