Nepal PM Hopes
Ahead of his visit to India, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal “Prachanda” has said that he would raise long-term power trade issue with New Delhi, hoping that this “bottleneck” will be sorted out and ensure that the Himalayan nation will be a favorable market for its surplus energy, as reported by the news agency PTI.
Prachanda will travel to India on Wednesday on a four-day official visit for talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and other leaders to further strengthen the age-old, multifaceted, and cordial ties. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation. This will be the 68-year-old Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) leader’s first bilateral visit abroad after assuming office in December 2022.
“There are some understandings relating to energy with India, which is of long-term interest to Nepal,” the Prime Minister pointed out, as quoted by PTI. “We will raise some issues relating to long-term power trade with India during my visit,” Prachanda told Nepal’s National News Agency (RSS), according to the government daily Gorkhapatra. This is what the Nepalese people have been seeking for many years, Prachanda said.
“It is our realization that if we can’t find out the proper market for energy after our production starts, then big investments won’t come,” said the Prime Minister, as quoted by PTI. “I think this bottleneck will be sorted out during my visit,” he said adding “We expect that Nepal will get a favorable market.” Nepal on Sunday decided to allow India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Limited to develop a second hydropower project in the country.
At present SJVN is developing a 900-MW Arun -III hydroelectric project, a run-of-river located on the Arun River in Eastern Nepal, scheduled to be completed in 2024.
According to an official statement, a meeting of the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) chaired by Prime Minister “Prachanda” approved the draft project development agreement (PDA) to be signed with India’s state-owned SJVN to develop the 669-megawatt (MW) Lower Arun Hydropower project in eastern Nepal, as reported by PTI.
“Our main concern for many years is creating an atmosphere for tri-country power trade among Nepal, India and Bangladesh.” There has been an agreement in principle to supply 50 MW of power to Bangladesh via the Indian grid for the time being, he said. Besides, I think my visit will pave the way to move forward the matters relating to trade and transit, which has been pending for the past few years, the Prime Minister said.
“We will also move forward with matters relating to constructing a dry port in Dodhara Chadani.” There are several issues besides these, which we will raise in the national interest of Nepal, he said, as quoted by PTI. “We will hold constructive dialogue if there is any problem between us,” he said.
“The border issues being raised at the peoples’ level and the future of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) Report. We will try to sort out these issues through diplomatic channels,” he added. “I think both sides are busy with the homework for better outcomes from my visit in the interest of both the countries,” said Prachanda, as quoted by PTI.
Prachanda met former premiers, foreign ministers and leaders of different political parties on Sunday to hold discussions on matters related to his upcoming visit to India, according to his aides. The Prime Minister said he will also raise the issue of providing air routes to Nepal during the bilateral talks. “We are seriously discussing the matter regarding the air route and we are expecting some positive outcome on the issue,” he added.
During his visit, the prime minister is also scheduled to pay a courtesy call to President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. The prime minister is also scheduled to visit Ujjain and Indore, Madhya Pradesh before returning to Kathmandu on June 3. Minister for Foreign Affairs N P Saud said that he is confident about the positive outcome of the visit. The visit will further strengthen bilateral ties, he said.
“There are cordial relations between our two countries,” he said. “Keeping in view Nepal’s energy market we will try to sign a long-term power deal with India,” he said. “During the visit we will make efforts to attract Indian investment in Nepal’s hydro-power sector, creating a favorable atmosphere for its trade by making a huge investment in constructing transmission lines. A conducive atmosphere will be created for exporting electricity to Bangladesh via India,” Saud told reporters, as quoted by PTI.
“As the Birgunj- Raxaul trading point has become very much congested, we will discuss with India the opening of alternative trading points such as Nepalgunj – Rupaidiya and Biratnagar-Jogbani.
The Prime Minister’s entourage will include Finance Minister Prakash Mahat, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala, and Minister for Industry and Commerce Ramesh Rijal besides Foreign Minister Saud. “Various outstanding matters, including the border issue, will come up during the bilateral talks between Nepal and India, Saud said.