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Infrastructure, power projects top Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba’s India agenda

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-08-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday on a five-day visit that will see India and Nepal discuss a number of infrastructure ventures and launch two electricity transmission lines to meet energy deficient Nepal’s needs.

One of the infrastructure projects expected to be finalized is a new bridge over the Mechi river on the India-Nepal border at a cost of Rs158 crore—funded by India through an Asian Development Bank loan. The Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared a preliminary pact “for laying down the implementation arrangement on cost sharing, schedules and safeguard issues for starting construction,” a government statement said.

“The new bridge is part of upgradation of the Kakarvitta (Nepal) to Panitanki Bypass (India) covering a length of 1,500 metres including a six-lane approach road of 825 metres. The Mechi Bridge is the ending point of Asian Highway 2 in India leading to Nepal and provides critical connectivity to Nepal,” the statement said. Its construction “will improve regional connectivity and has potential to strengthen cross-border trade between both the countries and cementing ties by strengthening industrial, social and cultural exchanges,” it added.

Another pact on curbing drug trafficking was also cleared by the cabinet.

Deuba’s delegation includes deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara, finance minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, tourism minister Jitendra Dev and commerce minister Meen Bishwakarma.

This is his first visit abroad since taking office in June, underlining the special relationship between the neighbours. But of late, these ties have been fraying, Nepal cultivating links with China to balance ties with India.

High on India’s agenda during Deuba’s visit will be the conclusion of several hydel power projects—whose planning has been in the works for many years but the projects themselves being far from fruition thanks to tardy decision making on both sides. These include the Pancheshwar, Arun III and Upper Karnali projects.

Modi and Deuba will be inaugurating two power transmission points at Raxaul-Parwanipur and Kushaha-Kattaiya, that will enable Nepal to get more electricity from India. These are part of six transmission lines on the border at Muzzafarpur-Dhalkepar, Kushaha-Kattaiya, Raxaul-Parwanipur, New Butwol-Gorakhpur, Nepalgunj-Lucknow and Purnea.

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