An agreement on ‘bulk cargo’ movement through more transit points between Nepal and India is due to be signed during the state visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to the southern neighbour that begins on Friday, officials said.
According to sources, New Delhi has expressed its readiness to provide bulk cargo facility at various border points with Nepal apart from Birgunj.
The agreement will open the door for importing bulk cargo from third countries directly to Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj via railway. Such facility is currently available only at the Birgunj customs.
Both the countries had been discussing the issue for long. Bulk cargo includes fertiliser, sugar, soybean, salt, plastic and feeds. Such cargo items brought from third countries via Kolkata, Haldiya and Vishakapatnam ports are imported to Nepal only via the Birgunj border at present.
Businesspersons have been demanding bulk cargo handling from other border points too arguing that the single gateway had forced them to increase their investment in raw materials, causing Nepali products to lose their competitiveness.
Citing a lack of railway infrastructure, India had been saying that it was difficult to provide bulk cargo facility at other border points.
In 2012, the Nepal-India Inter-government Committee had agreed to expand the bulk cargo facility to Biratnagar and Bhairahawa border points. The agreement, however, was not implemented as the letter of exchange was not issued.
Oli, Modi to open ICP from Delhi
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are scheduled to inaugurate the Birgunj-Raxaul Integrated Check Post (ICP) by pressing a switch from New Delhi.
Then-Indian foreign minister SM Krishna laid the foundation stone for the ICP on April 22, 2011. Spread over 115 bighas, it is believed that traffic congestion along the Nepal-India border point would ease after operation of the ICP.
“Once the ICP comes into operation, international trade will be eased while the country’s export increases,” said an official at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.
Construction of the ICP in Nepal started one-and-a-half years later than on the Indian side due to a dispute over land acquisition in Sirsiya of Birgunj, the Madhes agitation and India’s economic blockade, among others. Construction of the ICP on the Indian side in Raxaul was completed in May 2016 and handed over to the Indian customs.
The Nepal ICP was handed over to the Nepal Intermodal Transportation Development Committee last week under the Commerce Ministry.
After operation of the ICP, different routes will be used to import and export goods. The facility will be equipped with all kinds of gadgets necessary for automating the customs.
Service seekers will benefit as all the quarantine offices of livestock, food, and plants and the immigration office will be on the same premises.
Nepal was responsible for land acquisition while India built the infrastructure. The two countries agreed in 2006 to construct ICPs in Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj.
Two prime ministers to remotely lay Arun III foundation stone
Kathmandu: PM KP Sharma Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the Sankhuwa-sabha-based Arun III hydroelectric project jointly.
According to sources, the two prime ministers will lay the foundation stone for the 900-megawatt project by pressing a switch amid a function organised at the Hyderabad House.
Earlier, Modi was said to visit Nepal for the ceremony. Then-prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had invited Modi for the purpose during the former’s visit to India in August, 2017. Being developed by the Indian government utility Sutlej Jala Vidhyut Nigam, the project is expected to complete within five years.
The government of India has already released nearly $1 billion for the project, whose total expenditure is expected to reach $1.4 billion. (PR)