KATHMANDU, Aug 15: Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali has said that Nepal and India should focus on new projects, dropping joint projects that have not gathered pace even after a long time.
The statement from Minister Gyawali comes just a week before the Nepal-India Joint Committee (JC) meeting, which is expected to discuss pending projects in Nepal under Indian assistance. Speaking at an interaction on Dimensions of Nepal-India Relations at the Reporters Club in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Gyawali said Nepal wants to complete the projects under Indian assistance on a war footing.
“If any projects are not in a situation to move forward let’s leave them. Let’s push small irritants aside and accelerate those projects which we can implement,” he said regarding Nepal’s position on the various projects that have been in limbo for years.
However, referring to the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, which has also been in limbo for years, Gyawali said that both sides are still in discussions over its completion. He stressed the need for expediting the Upper Karnali Hydropower project as it may help meet the energy demand in India.
After a decade of uncertainty, construction of the Arun-III Hydropower project began last year and the Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline has just been completed, he said.
Recalling an action plan to implement past agreements with India, Gyawali said the two countries had agreed to conclude the uncompleted projects during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal during his first stint in office. He added that India has agreed to open more air routes to Nepal and made various other commitments under the action plan.
Also speaking at the interaction, Indian Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri said that Nepal could benefit from the prosperity and economic progress of India. He said that India has been assisting Nepal in game-changing projects including the petroleum pipeline and Arun-III.
“Nepal always benefits from our progress and prosperity and India is always ready to join hands for the prosperity and development of Nepal,” Puri said.
Recalling Modi’s visits to Nepal five times in the past few years, Puri claimed that these visits helped Nepal attract more Indian tourists to its religious destinations. He clarified that India’s latest move to scrap Article 370 of the Indian constitution was aimed at the rapid development to Jammu and Kashmir.
Former finance Minister and leader of the Nepali Congress (NC) Ram Sharan Mahat insisted that both Nepal and India should work together for economic growth and development. He suggested bringing Indian investment to Nepal for reducing the trade deficit.
Former foreign minister and leader of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Samyukta) Prakash Chandra Lohani urged India to invest in hydropower in Nepal as it would be beneficial for India as well.