Nepal team leaves for China to discuss cross-border railway

Published On: June 18, 2019 08:47 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 18: A Nepali delegation left for Beijing on Monday to hold discussions with the Chinese side on the feasibility study for a Kerung-Kathmandu Railway project. 

Officials said the discussions will revolve around conducting a feasibility study and preparing a Detailed Project Report and also on the investment modality. 

The Nepali delegation led by Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructures and Planning Devendra Karki is to hold talks with officials from the Chinese National Railway Authority in Beijing, as agreed during the third Nepal-China Railway Meeting held in Kathmandu back in December.

The seven-member delegation includes Joint Secretary Gopal Prasad Sigdel, Director General Balram Mishra and representatives of the ministries of finance and foreign affairs. Nepal embassy officials in Beijing will also join the Nepali delegation. 

The construction of a railway involves four different phases, including pre-feasibility study, feasibility study, design and the actual construction. Last year, the Chinese side completed the pre-feasibility study at its own cost.

The two countries are now in the process of conducting the feasibility study for the railway project, for which the Chinese side has already assured assistance of Rs 2 billion in grant, according to officials. 

Although the inclusion of a Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network including the Nepal-China cross-border railway in the joint communique issued after the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April revived the prospect of a Chinese railway line to Nepal, the cross-country railway has remained uncertain over the funding issue. The Nepal government has requested the Chinese side to build the multi-billion dollar railway under grant—something for which China has not given its word.

Speaking during a press conference organized by the Chinese embassy here recently, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi had said that the construction of a railway in the difficult geography of the highest place in the world is a challenging task that not only requires further scientific study but also patience.

During Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to Beijing in June, 2018, the two countries had agreed to set up a Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network with a view to enhancing wide-ranging connectivity including through ports, roads, railways, aviation and telecommunications.

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