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Stalled pipeline project likely to start soon

  • Amlekhgunj-Raxaul
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Nepal and India signed an agreement to lay the 41-km cross-border pipeline two years ago, but the project has been plagued by delays

Nov 10, 2017-Construction of the long-stalled Amlekhgunj-Raxaul oil pipeline is likely to start soon as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has completed preparations to despatch the required equipment to Nepal. The shipment is expected to arrive by November-end.

Nepal and India signed an agreement to lay the 41-km cross-border pipeline two years ago, but the project has been plagued by delays.

A high-level IOC team arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday to hold talks with Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) in a bid to speed up the project. According to NOC, the three-member IOC team led by Anish Agrawal, director of the pipeline project, has been reviewing the progress made till date. 

The other members of the IOC delegation are Pramod Narang, general manager of the project, and SS Boss, general manager in charge of commercial affairs. 

Apart from reviewing the project, the team has been discussing ways to expedite construction of the pipeline. The team is scheduled to visit the construction site on Friday.

NOC Spokesperson Birendra Kumar Goit said NOC and IOC officials would be discussing ways to remove the hurdles that have been holding back the project. “The team members will be making a field visit to find effective way to begin construction soon,” Goit said.

The government has identified the Amlekhgunj-Raxaul oil pipeline as a national priority project. The scheme was first proposed in 1995, but it gained momentum only after the two governments signed an agreement on August 25, 2015. 

However, progress slowed due to delays in conducting a detailed engineering survey, acquiring land and calling for tenders. Both sides have now completed all the tasks related to the detailed engineering survey while IOC has purchased pipes and other necessary materials. 

Goit said the Indian side would be sending the pipes and other items to Nepal by November-end. “We have made arrangements to store the construction materials in the compound of Birgunj Sugar Mill,” he said. 

However, Nepal is yet to complete land acquisition and an environmental impact assessment (EIA), among other tasks. 

An estimated 33.6 acres of land will be required for the project on the Nepal side. Likewise, 25,000 trees need to be cut down and 2,100 electricity poles have to be shifted. Almost 4,000 squatter settlements also need to be cleared. However, no progress has been made on this front so far. 

According to NOC, it has started the process to conduct an EIA and acquire land. “Towards this end, we have written to the concerned government offices,” said Goit. The draft EIA is now at the Ministry of Population and Environment awaiting its approval. It will then be sent to the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, he added. 

According to Goit, IOC will start laying the pipeline at Raxaul and extend it into Nepal. The project is expected to take 36 months. 

The pipeline has a diameter of 10.75 inches and is manufactured from a special material. Its life span is estimated to be 30 years. The project is expected to cost Rs4.4 billion. India will spend Rs3.2 billion while Nepal will pay the rest, according to the bilateral agreement.

Published: 10-11-2017 08:31

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