KATHMANDU: India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj today pledged $1 billion Indian aid for reconstruction and rebuilding of Nepal.
Addressing the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction here today, Swaraj said Nepal and India were joined in their joys and sorrows and needed to closely coordinate their disaster response and help each other in the wake of natural calamities. She said the relationship between India and Nepal is as old as history itself . “Ours is a Roti-Beti ka Sambandh – a bond of family and kinship,” she added. “It is in this background and in keeping with our very special relationship that I am happy to announce Government of India’s pledge for Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction of $1 billion, one fourth of it as grant. This pledge is over and above our existing bilateral developmental assistance of another $1 billion over the next five years, forty percent of which is grant,” she added.
Swaraj conveyed deep and abiding commitment of the people and Government of India and the personal commitment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nepal as it seeks to “wipe the tears of every Nepali”.
She said there had been an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy, support and solidarity with Nepal in its moment of tragedy. “Institutions and people across India reacted as if a disaster had struck India. Prime Minister Modi personally led our response for relief and rescue,” she added.
Operation Maitri – India’s rescue mission in Nepal in the aftermath of the quake was its largest ever disaster assistance effort abroad, valued at nearly INR 4 billion, said Swaraj. “What is important is not that this support was larger than other foreign countries, what matters is the strong feeling of empathy and the instantaneous, instinctive and heart-felt response from Indians for their Nepali brothers and sisters,” she added.
Stating that the mobilisation of resources worth $ 6.7 billion needed for reconstruction was a challenging task, she said Nepal had the good wishes and support of many friends and donors.
“If we all come together, we can address the funding challenge quite substantially. India stands ready to provide a lead and shoulder its responsibilities towards Nepal,” the Indian minister added.
Swaraj said India stood shoulder to shoulder with Nepal. She said India’s pledged support would significantly help the quickest possible recovery and reconstruction efforts in Nepal. Swaraj hoped that early implementation of important projects, such as Pancheshwar, Arun III and Upper Karnali Hydropower Projects and Nijgadh Airport and Kathmandu-Nijgadh Fast Track Road Project will create new avenues for livelihood, enhance government’s revenue and contribute towards speedy post-quake recovery and rehabilitation.
A version of this article appears in print on June 26, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.