Banned Indian notes find no mention

- Post Report, NEW DELHI

Apr 8, 2018-

Senior Indian officials have claimed that banned Indian currency notes and the Budhi Gandaki hydropower project did not figure during the state visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to India that concludes on Sunday.

The issue of exchanging banned Indian currency notes parked in various banks and financial institutions in Nepal and held by the public also found no mention during bilateral meetings between the two prime ministers, officials in Delhi said.

Briefing the media at the External Affairs Ministry upon completion of the meeting between PM Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said there was no discussion on China and Chinese investment in Nepal.

When some journalists asked about India’s perception of Nepal’s proximity with Beijing and Nepal’s participation in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Indian foreign secretary said: “We focused on strengthening bilateral ties. There was no discussion about the Budhi Gandaki project too but yes we discussed about Arun III, Pancheshwar projects.”

The Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government had awarded the contract for the construction of the 1,200 megawatt reservoir project to a Chinese firm whose memorandum of understanding was cancelled by the following Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government. 

The Deuba administration also decided to build it with Nepal’s own resources. After Oli came in power, there are speculations that the project could be awarded to a Chinese firm but there is no official word as such from the Energy Ministry. 

On Madhesis’ sustained protests over the constitution promulgation in Nepal in 2015, the Indian foreign secretary said there had been a lot of differences “between 2016 and today”. He was referring to the period when then-PM Oli pressed India to end its blockade of Nepal before he would visit New Delhi in 2016.

“We have friendly and close relations with Nepal and we are talking for a game charger initiative between the two countries. The political process is over,” said Gokhale.

On expediting the Saarc process, the Indian foreign secretary rejected the idea that India would support the hosting of the stalled Saarc Summit in Pakistan.

During the Nepal visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi last month PM Oli had pledged support to hosting the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation at the earliest.

“There are cross-border terrorism and disruptive forces so India is not ready to take part in the summit,” said Gokhale, admitting that Saarc and other regional organisations were mentioned in the meeting. Prime Minister Oli had stressed the importance of regional and sub-regional organisations like Saarc, Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal), he said, adding that India was also committed to the regional grouping but it was not possible to move forward the Saarc process at present.

The Indian foreign secretary said the issue of exchanging the demonetised Indian currency notes in Nepal did not figure in any bilateral meetings.

Joint-secretary (North) Sudhakar Dalela said cross-border electricity guidelines, which Nepal has reservations over, would be discussed during the energy secretary-level meeting.

Published: 08-04-2018 08:36

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