Kathmandu, October 27
A meeting of high-level officials of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is scheduled for the first week of November to decide on the date to begin the construction works of the much-hyped Raxaul-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline.
The meeting is expected to give momentum to the cross-border pipeline project, which has already been delayed for more than two years. Sushil Bhattarai — the Nepal coordinator of the project — informed that the November meeting between NOC and IOC will take necessary decisions to expedite the project.
“The execution of the Raxaul-Amlekhgunj pipeline project is taking time as numerous issues related to encroachment along the finalised route of the project, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and forest clearance have to be addressed before beginning construction works of the project,” informed Bhattarai.
However, he informed that the government is in the final stage of completing the EIA of the project. “As soon as EIA is completed and approved, IOC will begin construction works of project.”
Meanwhile, Bhattarai also said that NOC has been facing difficulty in clearing electricity poles along the finalised route of pipeline project and has appealed to the government to facilitate the process.
This delay by the Nepal side to make the finalised route of the pipeline project ready for construction, in fact, has been hampering the entire project. IOC will announce a global tender for the construction of the oil pipeline only after the pre-determined project route is ready.
However, things are starting to move ahead albeit slowly as different Indian manufacturers have started supplying pipes required for the project to Nepal lately.
NOC has been storing all imported materials related to the project in the warehouse of Birgunj Sugar Factory after taking the factory’s premises on lease.
Earlier, the government had decided to give customs waiver facility for equipment that will be used for construction of the Nepal-India petroleum pipeline.
As per Bhattarai, NOC and IOC will expedite the project construction with a target to start actual construction works of the project by December.
The Raxaul-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline was first proposed in 1996. However, the project edged closer to reality during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kathmandu in 2014.
The INR 2.75 billion-petroleum pipeline project is expected to be crucial to ensure regular supply of petroleum products in Nepal and reduce fuel transportation costs.
A version of this article appears in print on October 28, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.