Nepal Shares a border of over 1,850 kilometres with five Indian states, to its east, west and south- Sikkim, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. Relations with Nepal hold importance for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently has visited the neighbouring country for the third time in four years. It’s the first high level visit from India since the formation of a new government in Nepal this year. This visit is being seen as an attempt by both the countries to bring back normalcy in ties after a brief period of troubled relations, and is particularly important in the backdrop of China’s strengthening its political and economic ties with the Himalayan nation.
For Nepal, Modi’s visit is shortly after the formation of the strong leftist government led by Nepalese Prime Minister Oli is being seen as India’s endorsement of the Nepalese Constitution that was promulgated two and a half years ago. Oli was among the key leaders who had a major role in drafting the 2015 constitution, which failed to get India’s endorsement, resulting in an official blockade against the neighbouring Himalayan country.[i]
Here are five reasons why PM Modi’s Visit to Nepal is Crucial for both the countires:-
- Modi and Oli have started the undertaking for the construction of the 900 MW Arun III project in Sankhuwasabha district of eastern Nepal being developed by India through remote control. The two prime ministers will jointly inaugurate this project, the largest hydropower project to be developed in Nepal, which is expected to be completed within five years at a cost nearing Rs. 6,000 crores. This venture will develop the Nepalese economy by generating around 900 MW of power as it aims to provide billions of dollars to the Nepal government in the form of free electricity, royalty and tax. India too would benefit through the supply of the electricity generated by this project.
- Modi’s visit gave the boost to another infrastructure and connectivity project-
The Raxaul (Bihar)-Kathmandu Rail Link that was announced during Oli’s visit to India in April this year, which will connect Nepal to the Indian railway system. A complete survey of the area will be completed by the end of the year, according to sources who added that despite the difficult terrain the focus is on implementation. The Raxaul-Kathmandu Rail Line will expand connectivity between the two neighbours and enhance people to people linkages and promote economic development and growth. It is especially important in the backdrop of China also proposing to build its own railway line between Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Kathmandu by 2022, with the aim of reducing the Kathmandu’s dependence on India.
- Talks on the ambitious Pancheswar multi-purpose dam project could also be on the cards. It is said that the detailed project report is complete. This project, which was conceived 22 years ago, besides generating hydro-power to the tune of 4,800 MW, augmenting irrigation potential and controlling floods, also has the potential to address Delhi’s growing water demand through a proposed Sharda- Yamuna inter-linking of the river.
- In addition, prime ministers of both the nations will hold discussions on developing inland waterways transport. Kalughat in Bihar has been identified as the transhipment point. In the past month, both sides reviewed the trade and transit treaty, which might have to be amended for the inland waterways transport initiative to take off. Nepal is a landlocked country and a separate river transport system will give the country a much needed route all the way to the sea, resulting in cost effective and efficient movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements.
- Development assistance is PM Modi’s visit’s agenda, which includes talks on moving forward on an agricultural partnership, under which India’s organic farming experience and new initiatives of soil health cards etc. will be shared with Nepal. Meeting have been held and pilot projects have been identified. Power cooperation will be another key area of discussion. India’s power regulator has already been requested by countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh to decide the terms of the power trade. Modi will also emphasise that Nepal should also complete its commitments with regard to land acquisitions, forest clearances etc. much of which was responsible for delays in earlier projects.
Nepal is sensitive to India’s interest and would not allow its territory to be used against India, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli had assured PM Narendra Modi. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said it was a significant statement from Prime Minister Oli and India was satisfied with the discussions. Gokhale said Nepali leaders who called on Prime Minister expressed confidence that his visit to cultural places like Janakpur and Muktinath would enhance tourism.[ii]
( Accessed on 13th May 2018)
(Accessed on 13th May 2018)