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Nepal, India to sign 3 pacts on the sidelines of BIMSTEC Summit next week

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart, KP Oli will witness signing of two different pacts related to railway and movement of bulk cargo from Indian ports to three border points between Nepal and India.

world Updated: Aug 25, 2018 07:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
India Nepal pacts,BIMSTEC summit,Modi in Nepal
Nepal and India had agreed to expand Indian rail from Raxual to Nepal’s Capital, Kathmandu during Prime Minister KP Oli’s visit to India in April.(HT File Photo)

Nepal and India are all set to sign three agreements on the sidelines of the upcoming BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu that will give another height of leverage to New Delhi in the Himalayan nation.

Apart from participating in the summit, in the margins, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart, K P Oli will witness signing of two different pacts related to railway and movement of bulk cargo from Indian ports to three border points between Nepal and India. Similarly, Modi will handover the 400-bedded Dharmashala built in Pashupatinath Temple premises in Kathmandu.

“ We will sign memorandum of understanding with India on conducting survey of Raxual- Kathmandu railway. Similarly, we will sign letter of exchanges on movement of bulk cargo from Indian ports to Nepali transit points,” Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gywali told reporters during a press conference on Friday to apprise about the fourth BIMSTEC Summit that Nepal is hosting on August 30 and 31 in Kathmandu.

Nepal and India had agreed to expand Indian rail from Raxual to Nepal’s Capital, Kathmandu during the visit of Prime Minister Oli to India in April.

According to the officials, India will fully fund the survey of the proposed railway line. Earlier, an Indian team had conducted the baseline survey of the proposed railway line from Chovar in Kathmandu to Raxual. The pre-feasibility survey is expected to be completed within a year, according to officials.

Similarly, both sides will sign a letter of exchange titled ‘Process Simplification and Additional Route’ for amending the bilateral Transit Treaty, paving the way to commence the movement of bulk cargos through three more border points. Amending the present bilateral Transit Treaty, the LoEs will facilitate the movement of bulk cargos to the nearest railhead of major check posts at Jogbani in Biratnagar, Nautanwa (Bhairahawa) and Rupedhiya (Nepalgunj) on the Nepal-India border from the gateway ports—Kolkata/Haldia and Visakhapatnam.

The agreement will open the door for importing bulk cargo from third countries directly to Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj via railway. Such facility is currently available only at the Birgunj customs.

Nepali businessmen have been demanding the facilities since long because movement of such cargo operation only in Kolkata/Haldia that often takes more than a month to reach Birgunj due to various hassles.

Officials told HT that once the operation begins, Nepali traders and businessmen will able to import at least six types of raw materials needed for Nepali industries. The agreement is expected to bring along other benefits including drop in prices for industrial raw materials, low dependency on Birgunj for the big cargo and ease in distribution of bulk cargo across the country.

Such cargo items brought from third countries via Kolkata, Haldiya and Vishakapatnam ports are imported to Nepal only via the Birgunj border at present. These two pacts will sign on August 30 after the delegation level talks between Modi and Oli at Hotel Soltee. On August 31, after taking part in the closing session of the summit and his return to New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Modi will hand over the India built 400-bedded Nepal-India Maitri Dharmashala in the premises of the Pashupatinath Temple.

Two years ago, India provided Rs219.9 million to build the facility with dormitories, family rooms, kitchen, dining hall, library and some multipurpose halls to meet the requirements of the groups and families on pilgrimage to the temple.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 07:44 IST