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Nepal, India agree on building embankments, half a dozen projects

- SURESH RAJ NEUPANE, NEW DELHI

Jan 13, 2019-

India has agreed to construct an embankment along Nepal’s West Rapti, Banganga and Khando rivers. The agreement was reached during the eighth meeting of the Nepal-India secretary-level Joint Commission on Water Resources (JCWR) on Friday. The meeting also agreed on half a dozen other projects.

Constructing a link canal between Tanakpur dam and Mahakali Irrigation Project on the Nepali side as per the Mahakali Treaty and Saptakoshi high-dam multipurpose  project were also discussed in the meeting.

Although 23 years have passed since the Mahakali Treaty, the Mahakali Irrigation Project is yet to be completed due to India’s failure in constructing the link canal. Likewise, India has also agreed to pay Rs260 million to Nepal that it owed for the embankment of Lalbakaiya, Kamala and Bagmati rivers.

Nepali representatives have been strongly raising the issue of flooding on the Nepali  side  due to roads and dams built by India on its side along the border. An official present at the meeting said India has agreed to implement the suggestions given by the Joint Technical Committee that conducted a field study on the flooding  problems. Every year, Nepal faces flooding due to five dozen embankments and dams built by India, obstructing the natural flow of the rivers.

Furthermore, both sides have agreed to share statistics on flood forecast. The meeting decided to form a three-member technical team for the purpose. The team will finalise the modality of data sharing.

According to Nepali officials, India has also agreed to construct the head regulator of third phase of the Mahakali Irrigation Project as per the agreement reached two  years ago. The two sides had agreed that sill level of the head regulator for Nepal at Tanakpur Barrage would be at 244.25 metres.

No consensus was reached on Gandak and Koshi agreements which Nepal has been raising for a long time. Nepal has been demanding compensation of Rs500 million to the families who were displaced while constructing the Koshi Barrage as per the Koshi Agreement. India, on the other hand, has been claiming that it has already paid the due amount. The Indian side reiterated same stance during Friday’s meet, according to a source present at the meeting.

Likewise, Nepali side also asked the Indian side to pay compensation for the damage of crops due to India’s failure in performing periodic maintenance of the canals as per the Gandak Agreement. Nepal has been claiming Rs3 billion compensation from India.

In response, India said that there was no such provision in the agreement and  refused to pay the money, said an official present in the meeting. Energy and  Irrigation Secretary Sanjay Kumar Sharma had led the Nepali team while water  secretary UP Singh had led the Indian delegation in the meeting.

Published: 13-01-2019 08:16

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