Big Three expedite preparations for PTA

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    Taskforce to consult hydro experts, civil society

    PTA-1KATHMANDU, July 29:While deeply acknowledging the need to harness the country’s immense hydro potential for overall development of the country, three major political parties — Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) — have agreed to step up necessary homework to ink Power Trade Agreement with India.

    During a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Baluwatar on Tuesday evening, the three parties also formed a task force comprising of NC leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, UML leader Bhim Rawal and UCPN (Maoist) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha to finalize the PTA agreement with India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit scheduled for Sunday. 

    The task force will start consultation with concerned government officials, hydropower experts and civil society members to forge Nepal’s position on PTA. Leaders participating in the three-party meeting said Nepal will propose excluding the element of power generation in the PTA it wants to sign with India. 

    During the meeting held to finalize agenda during Modi’s visit, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey and Energy Minister Radha Gyawali had briefed about the preparations made so far. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had said it was encouraging to find all political parties agreeing to take Modi’s visit as the country’s common achievement. 
    “There has been an agreement among parties to make necessary preparations from the Nepali side to make Prime Minister Modi’s visit fruitful. The parties are unanimous about utilizing Modi’s visit to take Nepal-India relations to a new height,” UCPN (Maoist) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha told Republica.

    Former CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said all parties are ready for PTA with India. The three-party meeting has decided to seek support from the Indian side for infrastructure and hydropower development.

    According to Shrestha, the meeting also dwelled on Project Development Agreement of Upper Karnali. “There has been an agreement among parties to sign PDA with Indian company GMR in a way that it would ensure a win-win situation for both the sides,” he said.

    The government also plans to seek Indian assistance for expanding 300 kilometer section of the Mid-hill highway in eastern Nepal during Modi’s visit. Discussions are under way among parties on seeking Indian assistance for Kathmandu-Tarai fast track. The three-parties also decided to ask the Indian side to complete construction of postal road in Tarai at the earliest. 

    During the visit of Prime Minister Koirala to India, Indian Prime Minister Modi had asked Nepal to propose a project for India to develop as gift. Though there has been an understanding among parties on proposing a hydropower project with India, the parties are at odds as to which project to propose to India for construction. While some parties have proposed Tamor, other parties have argued that Nepal should better ask Indian support for the construction of the Arun III. 

    India’s state-owned Sutlej Company has already acquired license for developing Arun III.

    During the meeting, the Maoist side had raised the issue of removing the field office of Indian Embassy in Biratnagar and bringing Indian Small grant projects under the government’s budget. Other parties had positively responded to the Maoist proposal.

    Govt working on war-footing for Modi visit

    While political parties are busy finalizing the agenda, concerned government ministries are working on war-footing to make preparations for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day official visit to Nepal beginning Sunday. 

    Chief Secretary Leela Mani Poudyal held a meeting with concerned government

    Source : Republica