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09:38 AM | Thu, 08 Dec 2016

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Nepal proposes 'wish-list' for Oli's India visit

299 Days ago

Kathmandu: Ahead of Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli's upcoming visit to India, Kathmandu has finalised a comprehensive wishlist it wants New Delhi to fulfil.

Projects related to infrastructure and hydel development and power transmission top Oli's agenda for the six-day visit commencing February 19, officials here said.

The wishlist for Oli's visit -- his first foreign tour since assuming office in October last -- includes finalisation of two hydro-power projects of a total 750 MW capacity that have been on the table for quite some time now.

The two projects together would cost about $1 billion.

Nepal is estimated to have the potential to generate 42,000 MW of hydropower but today produces 800 MW -- far less than the domestic demand of 1,400 MW.

The two power projects were among agenda-points that Nepal's Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel had proposed to his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a visit to New Delhi earlier this month.

India has already promised $2 billion in aid during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Nepal in August 2014.

Another $1 billion in assistance was pledged by India in June 2015 at the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction following the April 2015 earthquake.

Out of the $1 billion, $250 million is aid and the remaining $750 million is soft loan to carry out various post-quake reconstruction works.

The other major proposals on Oli's wishlist are completion within five years of the India-assisted Hulaki Road (postal road) project in Nepal's southern Terai area; laying of cross-border power transmission lines and developing a state-of-art hospital in Kathmandu.

Nepal and India have recently installed 400 kv power transmission lines and have also proposed to build six power corridors at various border points.

According to finance ministry officials here, Poudel also sought Indian assistance to build one national institute of technology, establishment of eight technical schools and the setting up of an ayurveda university.

Other areas of discussion are the early implementation of the 6,720 MW Pancheshwor multipurpose project, construction of a second international airport in Nepal, and fast-tracking of construction of the Kathmandu-Terai road besides some security issues.

Nepal relies heavily on foreign aid and assistance from India has contributed to major infrastructure development in the Himalayan nation.

Grants from India helped to build the airport in Kathmandu, the flood control Koshi Barrage, Bir Hospital in Kathmandu, Trauma Centre, a number of irrigation projects and important highways like Tribhuvan Highway -- connecting capital Kathmandu to the Birgunj-Raxaul border with India -- and Siddhartha Highway -- connecting the Terai region in southern Nepal with the mountain region in northern Nepal.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail. (IANS)

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