Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Closer Partnership

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s three-day visit to India has added new dimensions to social, political, economic and cultural ties between Nepal and India. During his special meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Saturday, the two Prime Ministers candidly discussed the whole gamut of bilateral issues, including border issues, security concerns, civil aviation, energy cooperation, financial integration, trade, investment and connectivity networks, and shared their perspectives on further strengthening friendly ties in a forward-looking approach. They agreed to boost the bilateral relations by finding solutions to the unresolved issues on the basis of mutual trust and interest. PM Deuba has proposed to resolve the border issues through a joint mechanism, which was taken positively by the Indian side. In a similar manner, both the PMs directed their concerned officials to expedite the bilateral discussions towards early finalisation of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project’s DPR considered a game changer in the region.

India is expected to positively respond to Nepal’s request for additional air entry routes to Nepal through Mahendranagar, Nepalgunj and Janakpur and the concurrence of near border flight operations to operationalise the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa. The two nations signed four agreements on Nepal joining international solar alliance, Indian technical assistance to Nepal’s railway sector, cooperation in the field of petroleum sector and exchange of expertise between Nepal Oil Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation. The two prime ministers jointly inaugurated Kurtha-Jayanagar cross-border passenger train services, India’s RuPay digital card for use in Nepal, and the Solu Corridor 132 KV Power Transmission Line and Substation in Nepal built under the government of India's line of credit.

In yet another important development, the two nations unveiled a joint vision statement on power trade to usher in new era of energy cooperation between them. PM Modi conveyed to Deuba that their power trade proposals have been cleared and it would contribute to Nepal’s economic prosperity. They agreed for joint development of power generation projects in Nepal, development of cross-border transmission infrastructure, bi-directional power trade with appropriate access to electricity markets in both countries based on mutual benefits, market demand and applicable domestic regulations of each country, coordinated operation of the national grids and institutional cooperation in sharing latest operational information, technology and know-how, according to the joint statement.

Nepal and India have agreed to expand cooperation in the power and energy sector under the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) framework. The two nations discussed ways to address the huge trade deficit of Nepal and various aspects of cooperation in water resources, inundation and flood control. They agreed to conclude the revised Transit Treaty to facilitate the operationalisation of rail, cargo, transhipment, private operators, inland waterways and access to additional ports. While appreciating India for providing vaccines and medical supplies to Nepal in fighting the COVID-19, PM Deuba, addressing a joint press conference with PM Modi, said: “We look up to the tremendous economic transformation that India has achieved and benefit from India’s progress through a mutually beneficial economic partnership.”

PM Deuba urged the Indian investors to invest in Nepal, pledging to create appropriate investment climate. Hydroelectricity, tourism, manufacturing and information technology are some of highly potential areas for investment in Nepal. Now it is imperative for both sides to translate those bilateral accords into action. Nepal and India share age-old, time-tested and multidimensional ties nourished by common cultural ethos, civilisational linkages and continuous people-to-people bond. PM Deuba’s visit has further deepened the bilateral relations.