Gear up Nepal-China railway project

Published On: June 23, 2019 02:25 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

We talk a lot. Work less. This has become a national disease in our country mainly in the context of carrying out important development projects. Mostly politicians sell dreams of big projects during elections, budget speeches and other occasions. Such promises often complicate situation as the leaders make lofty promises without doing even basic study on such projects. And, in many instances such assurances never come into reality. When some of the ambitious development schemes somehow begin, the execution part becomes very weak taking years to gather momentum and eventually frustrating the general public. It has become imperative to do away with this disease that has plagued our country for decades. 

As officials from Nepal and China last week held bilateral talks to discuss the Detail Project Report (DPR) of the proposed Nepal-China Railway project, the Chinese officials at the meeting emphasized that five basic things be made clear ahead of discussing about the DPR issue. Thus the fourth Nepal-China bilateral meeting on preparing a DPR for the Kerung-Kathmandu railway concluded on Thursday without entering the agenda item of DPR. During the talks Chinese officials asked the Nepali side to first ensure that the standards set by a pre-feasibility study for the project be met. The Chinese side had earlier conducted a pre-feasibility study and submitted a report to the Nepal government. Officials from the northern neighbor have pointed out the need for further technical study of the report, proper preparations to tackle the engineering challenges that may arise in future and the need of an in-depth study on minimizing possible geological disaster. Their fourth concern is about measures to be taken to ensure the security of the railway system and on the fifth point, they have pointed out the need for a scientific study to minimize ecological impact in the affected areas. With the Chinese side floating their concerns clearly, now the Nepal side need to study and work on those matters seriously. Also, the Nepal side needs to study all the issues related to the project and come up with clear proposals to float in the next bilateral meeting and communicate Nepal’s concerns categorically there. It has to share Nepal’s strengths and needs so that it can expedite the work efficiently in tandem with its counterparts. Before that Nepali authorities must hold extensive discussions among all the stakeholders and agencies within the country. The political leadership needs to forge consensus among all the political forces on the key issues before any proposals on sensitive matters are floated in the bilateral meeting. Any proposal based on broader consensus and support within the country adds more validity and authenticity during bilateral talks.

When it comes to implementing Nepal-China bilateral projects, the area we need to work hard is on expediting work on the ground as per the spirit of the agreements reached at the political level. There is no policy confusion with regard to carrying out projects including those under the Belt and Road Initiative. Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali only on Friday reiterated Nepal government’s priority on utilizing the opportunities offered by BRI in the field of connectivity and development of mega infrastructures. The good thing is that the Nepal-China railway mechanism, which was established two years ago, has been working regularly. The first (November 2017) and third meetings of the mechanism were held in Kathmandu while the second and fourth took place in Beijing. The fifth meeting will take place in Kathmandu in December. We urge the concerned authorities to work hard and make the fifth meeting more fruitful in terms of laying strong ground to speed up the Nepal-China railway project.


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