ICP Birgunj to come into operation from mid-April

Kathmandu, February 28

The Indian government is preparing to hand over the Integrated Check Post (ICP) Birgunj to the government of Nepal by March 7 and bring this infrastructure into full-fledged operation by mid-April as the recently held project steering committee meeting has listed out some of the unfinished tasks to bring the ICP Birgunj into operation.

Nepal Intermodal Development Board (NITDB) — the government agency responsible for the operation, maintenance and management of the ICP — has informed that the trial operation of the ICP is scheduled for the third week of March. Though the construction works of the ICP on the Indian side were completed a year back, the project being constructed through Indian assistance and by the same contractor has yet to complete the construction on the Nepal side. The consultant of the project, RITES India Ltd, has said that the remaining works can be completed even after the handover of the ICP.

Both sides have agreed to complete the remaining works by the end of March that includes training of the concerned officials in operationalisation of ICP as the ICP accommodates various agencies namely, customs, immigration, quarantines, and banks among others at the same place. The government has already proposed training requirements to India and the first batch of training will be completed by the end of March.

According to NITDB Executive Director, Laxman Bahadur Basnet, both sides have agreed to complete the construction works by the end of March. The NITDB and Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) will coordinate with the concerned stakeholders of both sides for operationalisation of facilities that the ICP offers during trial operation.

The optical fibre cable laying works up to ICP Birgunj entry gate is scheduled to be completed by the first week of March.

“Widening of Parsa-Thori road section is also one of the components of the project but the government aims to complete this road section by June this year and both sides have agreed that this will not hinder theoperationalisation of ICP Birgunj,” as per Basnet.

The private sector is eagerly waiting for the operationalisation of ICP, which is expected to expedite the customs clearance procedures and minimise the cost of the country’s external trade. And the Indian side was willing to handover the ICP to Nepal as early as possible following the joint communiqué issued during the visit of former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to India which stated the operationalisation of ICP Birgunj by mid-December last year.

The Ministry of External Affairs of India has extended grant assistance for four ICPs, including in Birgunj. ICPs are proposed at major check points of Nepal-India border crossings, namely Bhairahawa, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj. India and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding in 2005 for the construction of the ICPs at four cross-border points along the India-Nepal border. In the first phase, the construction of ICPs at Raxaul-Birgunj as well as Jogbani-Biratnagar was taken up.

The ICPs will have state-of-the-art facilities, integrated customs and immigration services for smooth cross-border movement of goods and services as a part of trade facilitation and also for passenger traffic.