Govt to assign security responsibility to NA

Kathmandu, July 25

The government is preparing to assign the responsibility of security of Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline project to the Nepali Army.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) recently sent a letter to Nepali Army seeking its interest in taking up the responsibility to safeguard the Nepal-India cross-border fuel project, which is likely to start commercial operation from next month.

“As Nepali Army has already been providing security to fuel depots in Nepalgunj, we have proposed the security force to take up the pipeline project’s security responsibility as well and have sought their modality to safeguard the project,” informed Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, secretary at MoICS, adding that the government will finalise security responsibility of the project soon.

As the project is likely to witness virtual inauguration by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has already asked Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to finalise the security agency for the project.

As Nepal is handling operation of such a pipeline project for first time, the country neither has necessary security guidelines to operate such projects nor ample expertise in handling operation of such projects. In India, government has a separate security guideline for petroleum pipeline projects.

Moreover, it is due to lack of enough expertise with NOC to operate the pipeline project that the corporation is seeking supply of only diesel via the Motihari-Amlekhgunj pipeline for now.

Supplying multiple petroleum products via the pipeline will be comparatively complex, as per NOC officials.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Army has informed that they will take a decision on the MoICS proposal soon. “We have formally received the letter from the government seeking our interest in safeguarding the pipeline project today. Currently, we are analysing the government’s proposal and will come up with a decision soon,” informed Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey, spokesperson for Nepali Army.

The Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline was first proposed in 1996. However, the project finally edged closer to reality during Indian PM Modi’s visit to Kathmandu in 2014. The two governments inked an agreement to execute the project in August 2015.

The construction of the project, which began in April last year, is expected to ensure smooth supply of petroleum products in the country and also notably reduce transportation cost for NOC.