KATHMANDU, Nov 28: Discussions have started between China and Nepal about the much talked about Kathmandu-Kerung inland railway.
A team including Keshav Kumar Sharma, Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and Rohit Kumar Bisural, Director General of the Department of Railway, is in China to discuss the railway project.
While China is working on a detailed feasibility study, a meeting of the Nepal-China Secretary-level Railway Mechanism meeting was held to review the progress of the project.
The technical team that came from China on December 27, 2022 reached Rasuwa and Nuwakot and started a detailed study. After that, a technical team from China came to Nepal and is working on the study. The technicians of the China Railway Survey and Design Group Company Limited of the Chinese government are conducting a study in Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Kathmandu and other areas.
However, the Chinese side has not given any information about the progress of the project so far. According to Ministry of Physical Infrastructure sources, China is expected to inform Nepal about this in the secretary-level meeting.
Officials say that in the meeting, the Chinese side will also discuss the various cooperation expected by the Nepali government, including land, forest and other facts and figures.
The Chinese technical team is expected to prepare and submit a detailed feasibility report in the next three and a half years. Last year, it was said that the survey work would be completed in the first one year, while the schedule for surveying and mapping work was fixed within the next year and a half. It has been planned to finalize and submit the engineering study report within the next one year.
For detailed studies, it is considered that camps should also be established to work in the field for studies in the future. China is doing the study at its own expense.
According to the preliminary study report of the Kerung-Kathmandu railway handed over by China on December 10, 2018, a detailed study is being conducted.
The memorandum of understanding for making DPR of Kerung-Kathmandu, Kathmandu-Pokhara and Pokhara-Lumbini railways was signed during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal in 2019. For the implementation of that agreement, the meeting of Nepali and Chinese officials held in Kathmandu in November 2019 divided the work.
Due to the strict policy taken by the Chinese government to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the technical team could not come for a long time. After China lifted the zero-covid-19 policy and opened up travel restrictions, the work of this project progressed according to the action plan.
About 98 percent of the project is going to be expensive, with tunnels and bridges in difficult terrain. Therefore, if the railway is built based on the economic benefit analysis, the investment will be collected and this project will bring Nepal's railway 'connectivity' to the ports of China.
After China completes the study, there will have to be an agreement between Nepal and China regarding the modality of project construction and investment and the solution to technical complications. Based on that, the issue of construction of the project will be decided.