National

India lends three fortified cars for BIMSTEC meet

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Aug 27, 2018-

India has provided three sophisticated armoured vehicles to be used by the heads of state/government participating in the fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation scheduled to take place in Kathmandu on August 30 and 31.

The Indian Aircraft C-17 on Saturday flew three armoured BMW bullet proof cars from New Delhi to Kathmandu. Once the summit is over, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will return the vehicles to the government of India.

An Indian Embassy spokesperson confirmed the support as a good gesture between friendly nations Nepal

and India.

On Sunday, the IL-76 MD aircraft of the Indian Air Force landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport with another armoured vehicle to be used by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the summit.

This is not the first time that the government of India has lent Nepal armoured vehicles for use during high-profile gatherings. In 2014, New Delhi loaned six armoured vehicles for the use of delegates to the 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Besides, Kathmandu separately hired 32 high-end Mercedes Benz Sedans from Indian travel agencies for the Saarc Summit.

The security of visiting heads of state or government remains the top concern, said a senior official concerned with the matter. Vigilance has been increased in some areas of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur where urban refugees dwell, perceiving them as threat to visitors’ safety, according to the officials.

To ensure safety and security, plans are in place along with the logistics and other aspects of management. Sources said two armoured vehicles used by President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will be used along with the three delivered by India.

For the visiting foreign ministers and secretaries of the BIMSTEC member states, the government has already pooled some high-end vehicles, used by ministers and senior officials. The government also has nine Mercedes Benz cars gifted by Qatar in 2016.

The Home Ministry had formed a task force to arrange vehicles for use by the visiting VIPs and delegation members. While the government has arranged for almost all types of high-end vehicles for the summit, some, including ambulances, will be rented. A dedicated security plan is for deploying personnel from Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and the National Intelligence Department in Kathmandu and Lumbini. Two heads of state are planning to visit the Buddha’s birthplace.

Learning from our experience of holding the 2014 Saarc Summit, we have come up with a detailed security plan that involves threat assessment, security deployment, intelligence gathering, emergency evacuation and action. Security agencies are in high alert in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Rupandehi, working on security review, and routes used by the VIPs including their visits to Hotel Soaltee, Hotel Hyatt, President’s Office and Lumbini.

Retreat venue changed

The government has changed the BIMSTEC Summit retreat venue from Gokarna Forest Resort to Hotel Soaltee, where the summit takes place, since the road from Chabahil to Gokarna was not completed on time. Due to bad weather and poor road conditions, the venue has changed, said a Foreign Ministry official. Retreats in multilateral forums are informal occasions for participants to develop personal bonds by means of games or cultural shows or chat. Due to inclement weather and torrential rains, the helipad built in Gokarna cannot handle many flights, said officials. When all options expired, we decided to use Soaltee as the retreat venue as well, said officials.

Published: 27-08-2018 08:30

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