Agreement reached on three areas

Kathmandu, April 7

Nepal and India have agreed to forge partnership in three areas: inland waterways, cross-border rail linkages, and agriculture.

The two sides reached agreement during delegation-level talks held today in New Delhi.

During talks, PM Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to develop inland waterways to enable cost-effective and efficient movement of cargo within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, provide additional access to sea for Nepal, according to the joint statement.

To facilitate movement of traffic-in-transit, the two leaders directed their officials to formulate and mutually agree upon procedures and modalities for including inland waterways as additional means of transport in the Protocol to the Treaty of Transit.

Oli noted the enormous impact additional connectivity would have on growth of business and  the economy of Nepal, while Modi said the initiative would result in land-linked Nepal becoming sea-linked.

With the objective of expanding connectivity to enhance people-to-people linkages and promote economic growth and development, the two prime ministers also agreed to construct an electrified rail line with India’s financial support, connecting Raxaul in India to Kathmandu.

The two sides agreed that the Indian government would, in consultation with Nepal government, carry out preparatory survey work within a year and finalise implementation and funding modalities of the project based on the Detailed Project Report.

The two leaders appreciated the progress made on the cross-border rail link projects under way and said the railway lines from Jayanagar to Janakpur and from Jogbani to Biratnagar would be completed in 2018, and that work on the remaining stretch of the ongoing rail link projects — Jayanagar-Bijalpura-Bardibas and Jogbani-Biratnagar — would be taken forward.

The two leaders stressed implementation of the remaining three links under Phase-II of the project — New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta, Nautanwa-Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj. Welcoming the ongoing Final Location Survey of the three links, the leaders agreed to expedite the remaining survey work.

On agriculture, the two sides agreed to give fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation in the sector and to launch a ‘New Partnership in Agriculture’. The partnership will focus on collaborative projects in agriculture research and development, education, training and scholarships, strengthening supply and value chain, climate resilience, seed technology research, soil health, infrastructure of plant protection laboratories, research of indigenous genetic resources, animal husbandry, veterinary research, agro forestry, bio-pesticides, bio-fertilisers, cooperative farming and exchanges between the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and Nepal Agricultural Research Council.

The first meeting of the partnership will be held at an early date to concretise priority areas of mutual interest and to develop work plan for implementation. The Indian side also announced a pilot project on organic farming and soil health monitoring.