Govt preparing to operate ICP from next week

Kathmandu, February 8

The government is preparing to bring the integrated check post (ICP) Birgunj into operation from mid-February as the private sector has suggested the government to initiate early operation of the ICP, which is almost complete. Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has suggested the government to bring the ICP into operation as soon as possible.

Officials said that over 95 per cent of the works have been completed. Constructed under Indian assistance, the contractor of the ICP has to complete some works like building a link road from ICP on the Indian side to the ICP Birgunj and some necessary infrastructure like warehouse shed, parking lots and Electronic Data Interchange room within the ICP are yet to be finished.

Nepal and India had agreed to bring the ICP into operation by the end of last year. However, the schedule fixed during the meeting between the prime ministers of the two nations has already been missed. Both the prime ministers had agreed to operationalise ICP by the end of last year, as per the joint statement issued by them during Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s visit to India in August.

The construction of ICP Birgunj had started in April of 2011 and has missed the completion deadline several times. While the ICP on the Indian side was completed about a year back, its launch has been postponed as the ICP in Birgunj is yet to be completed.

The ICP Birgunj, which is being constructed by an Indian contractor, was supposed to have been completed by March this year as per a deadline set during the meeting of senior officials of Nepal and India held here in December 2016.

However, the consultant, RITES India, has said that the ICP can be operated any time and the contractor can complete the remaining works even after the ICP comes into operation.

The ICP will house customs, immigration, banks and quarantine, among others. To bring the ICP into operation, such offices need to be relocated to the ICP from the existing places. The ICP is expected to bring down the time of customs clearance and provide all the facilities that are required for the customs clearance process at one place.

Along with the construction of the ICP Birgunj, preparatory works of other ICPs are also expected to gather momentum because the Indian government has also been giving them due priority. Nepal and India have planned to build ICPs on their respective sides at ports of entry in Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj.

Under the agreement, Nepal needs to just provide the required land for the ICPs and the remaining cost of ICP construction will be borne by the government of India. Nepal government has already acquired 129bighas of land for the construction of ICP in Biratnagar.

Though Nepal and India had signed a memorandum of understanding in 2005 for the construction of ICPs in four major border points along Nepal-India border, namely Birgunj (Nepal)-Raxaul (India), Biratnagar (Nepal)-Jogbani (India), Bhairahawa (Nepal)-Sunauli (India) and Nepalgunj (Nepal)-Nepalgunj Road (India), preparatory works like land acquisition and detailed designs of Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj ICPs are yet to gather pace.