Kathmandu, August 16
Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth today said the government expected to get the detailed project report of the North-South railway project, which would link Kathmandu with China and India, within a year.
Speaking at the Development and Technology Committee of the Parliament, Mahaseth said the government of Nepal would receive detailed project report of Kathmandu-Raxaul railway from India within six months and that of Kathmandu-Kerung railway from China within nine months.
“As the government has already signed agreements with India and China in this regard, we are doing our job as per agreements,” he said.
Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Madhusudan Adhikari said the governments of Nepal and India were likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on construction of the Kathmandu-Raxaul railway line by the end of August during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal for the fourth summit of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
“We are working on a draft agreement for Kathmandu-Raxaul railway line. The draft has been sent to the ministries of law, finance, foreign affairs for necessary feedback and revision,” he said.
Secretary Adhikari said First Survey Institute was conducting pre-feasibility study on the Kathmandu-Kerung railways line. “Next week a joint secretary-led Nepali team is heading for China to hold discussion on the issue,” he said.
Minister Mahaseth said discussion on the modality for construction of the railway lines was under way.
“We can construct the railway line either through foreign grant assistance or loan. However, it would not be appropriate, if we fully depend on grant assistance as it would tarnish the country’s image.”
Lawmaker Ram Bahadur Bista recalled how the Sri Lankan government had been unable to repay the loan from the Chinese government.
“The Chinese took the Sri Lankan port for 99 years. We don’t want this kind of situation. So, we should be clear about the project cost and financing modality,” he added.
Another lawmaker Rajendra Lingden said the government should come up with a clear view on railway projects. “What kind of railways we are going to build ? What will be the cost of such projects and who will pay for them? And are they going to be built in our lifetime,” he questioned.
Lawmaker Rangamati Shahi, however, said construction of roads were more important than railway lines. “We don’t have roads in the district. So the government should first build roads and then plan to build railways,” she said.
Secretary Adhikari said the Department of Railways lacked necessary human resources.
A version of this article appears in print on August 17, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.