Prime Minister’s India visit to focus on pending projects

Kathmandu, September 3

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s forthcoming visit to India will focus more on early execution of pending projects rather than looking for fresh ones.

A few fresh deals, however, are also on the cards as Prime Minister Dahal is himself convinced that the Indian side is keen to help Nepal in post-quake recovery efforts and finance some investment projects, officials privy to the matter said.

PM Dahal is scheduled to visit the southern neighbour from September 15 to 18 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Talking to The Himalayan Times, Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat said the PM’s focus would be on implementing all ongoing joint-venture projects and revitalising bilateral mechanisms — from the policy to implementation and technical levels.

The foreign minister, however, said agendas for the visit were yet to be finalised as discussions were under way within the domestic agencies as well as the Indian side. Ministry of Foreign Affairs will finalise the agendas with inputs and suggestions from other relevant ministries.

Dozens of projects pledged or being implemented by India in Nepal are not being executed in a timely manner. A case in point is Naumure Hydropower Project (250 megawatts) in the Rapti River, which India had agreed to build as a gift to Nepal during PM Dahal’s first visit to India as the prime minister in September 2008. The project has failed to take off.

Officials said signing of the MoU on early execution of the much-delayed Pancheshwor Multipurpose Project (3,600 megawatts) is among the agendas to be discussed with India.

Similarly, the Nepali side also wants early completion of hydel projects like Arun III and Upper Karnali, whose project development agreements were inked two years ago.

Likewise, the Nepali side will also seek early completion of sections of the Mid-hill Highway as well as the Hulaki Road. Construction of the road sections had halted due to budget crunch and controversy surrounding the Indian contractor.

A top MoFA official ruled out any possibility of sealing a deal on awarding the Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track road project to an Indian firm. Revoking an initial process of awarding the multi-billion rupee contract to an Indian consortium company, erstwhile KP Sharma-led government had decided to construct the road with Nepal’s own resources.

Another MoU is likely to be sealed for setting up Nepal Police Academy in Panchkhal, Kavre, on which an initial understanding was reached during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to Nepal in November 2014, officials said.

Among fresh deals to be sealed include India’s additional support for quake-victims, according to a MoFA official. Indian side was positive when Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi’s put forth the proposal of Indian assistance worth about Rs 50 billion to provide additional Rs 100,000 — on top of the already pledged 200,000 rupees — to each quake-victim family to rebuild their homes.

Similarly, setting up a state of the art polytechnic institute at Dhikur Pokhari of Kaski, where PM Dahal was born, is likely to be sealed. Officials, however, said the Nepali side was yet reach a conclusion on whether to establish it in Kaski or Chitwan.

Other agendas of the PM’s four-day trip will be restoring bilateral relations and rebuilding confidence at political, diplomatic and people-to-people level between the two countries, according to PM’s Press Adviser Govinda Acharya. The Nepali side will also seek New Delhi’s ‘good wishes’ for implementation of the new constitution, a source said.