Kathmandu, Jul 5: A major Indian economic aid package is expected to be announced during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal sometime during early August.
This was revealed here by Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae during a meeting with Nepal’s Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat on Friday.
A statement issued by Nepal’s finance ministry after the meeting, quoting the Indian envoy, said: “India is all set to announce a huge economic package during the visit of Modi. If there are any prior requests from Nepal for our consideration, please let us know.”
At a time Nepal is marching towards protracted political transition to political and economic stability, there are requests from Nepal to India seeking economic assistance equal to what India has been providing to Bhutan and Afghanistan.
The Indian envoy had sought some specific projects details from Nepal, particularly infrastructure-related ones for which the Indian side can take a call if Nepal informs it in time so that adequate homework can be done prior to the announcement.
Several infrastructure-related projects, especially hydro-power and road expansion, are in Nepal’s wishlist that will likely be communicated to the Indian side ahead of Modi’s visit.
According to Nepal’s finance ministry, Kathmandu will seek Indian assistance to help build one mega hydro-power project, a Kathmandu-Tarai fast track road, a road in Nepal’s Terai area adjoining India, two bridges in far west Nepal that will link the Himalayan nation with the India state of Uttarakhand, construction of a cricket academy and playground.
However, the Indian envoy said that India wanted the early clearance of the power development agreement (PDA) of GMR-funded Upper Karnali hydro-power project (900 MW) and Upper Marsyangdi-2 (600 MW) project, and Arun-3 (900 mw) which is being executed by Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited, a public sector undertaking under India’s ministry of power.
Without having a dedicated PDA, these Indian companies cannot put in money and start construction.
Similarly, the Indian side is also expected to sign a power trading agreement (PTA) with Nepal that will ease the process of buying and selling energy between the two countries and fix prices for the energy business.
Construction of several transmission lines for the export and import of electricity between Nepal and India will also form a major part of the agenda of the bilateral talks.
During the meeting, the Indian envoy assured Mahat that India was keen to help Nepal develop the game of cricket in that country.
Along with infrastructure-related projects, Mahat and Rae also discussed easy supplies of petroleum products from India to Nepal, building a dharamshala in Pashupatinath temple area with Indian assistance, building an academy for Nepal police and other existing Indian projects in Nepal.
To lay the ground for Modi’s visit, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is visiting Nepal by the end of July.
“We are ready to welcome the Indian prime minister whose visit is taking place after 1997. We always appreciate Indian assistance for Nepal’s development,” said Mahat during the meeting.