Kathmandu, April 15
As Chinese government officials have not yet decided on the date for a meeting with Nepali authorities, the fourth meeting between authorities of both the nations related to the Kathmandu-Kyirong railway has been delayed.
Earlier, both the countries had agreed to hold the meeting in the first week of April but the date has not been fixed yet.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have informed the Nepali side that they were unable to fix the date for the meeting as administration chief of National Railways Administration (NRA) and other high ranking officials had been recently transferred.
“We are in regular touch with the Chinese officials to fix a date for the meeting,” said Balaram Mishra, director general of the Department of Railways.
Earlier, both the governments had agreed to simultaneously accelerate works on the detailed feasibility study (DFS) and detailed project report (DPR) of the much-hyped 75-kilometre-long Trans Himalayan Kathmandu-Kyirong railway project.
Mishra further added that they were holding talks with NRA officials to prepare the model of the DPR.
A joint study team of Nepali and Chinese engineers had earlier agreed to start works on the DFS and DPR from the first week of April, which has also been affected as the meeting has been delayed. “Meanwhile, we are internally preparing on how to move forward with the project works and are working on the plan and design of the project,” Mishra said.
As per an earlier understanding, the joint study team that will prepare the DFS and DPR will comprise Nepali engineers, local consultant and Chinese engineers from the China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group and works will be started simultaneously from Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Kyirong.
The government had previously sent 14 Nepali engineers to China to study about the electrified railway system. They have also been included in the team.
Earlier, a joint team comprising Nepali and Chinese consultants had submitted the pre-feasibility report of the railway project on August 10.
The report had stated that the Trans Himalayan cross-border electrified railway project is feasible. Since then, both the nations have already held three rounds of discussions.
Seeking anonymity, a high-level source from the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, said that the fourth meeting was postponed on mutual understanding.
“The railway project will also be discussed during President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s official state visit to China,” the source added.
The government had earlier said that President Bhandari will visit China on August 24, but the official date has not yet been finalised.
“We have proposed to the Chinese government to conduct the DFS and DPR of the project through Chinese investment, so an agreement to that effect may be signed during the president’s visit to the northern neighbour,” source said.
A Chinese technical team had conducted an initial field study in November, 2017 and a pre-feasibility study report had estimated that the project would cost about Rs 275 billion.
A version of this article appears in print on April 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.