Inauguration of 132 kVA Lines and Landmark 10,000 MW Electricity Trade Deal

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KATHMANDU, Jan 4: Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is arriving in Kathmandu on Thursday as a part of his first foreign visit of the year to Nepal to co-chair a meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission (JC) meeting.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Kathmandu and the Indian External Affairs Ministry jointly announced his two-day official visit to Nepal on Wednesday. Minister Jaishankar in his two-day visit to Nepal is scheduled to hold talks with top political leadership in Kathmandu to take forward ties in areas ranging from connectivity to development cooperation.

Jaishankar is visiting Nepal at the invitation of Foreign Minister NP Saud, who will join him to co-chair the seventh meeting of the joint commission, which was established in 1987 and acts as a platform for both foreign ministers to review all aspects of the bilateral relations.

Jaishankar is scheduled to arrive in the morning from New Delhi via special aircraft and co-chair the JC meeting, which  is mandated to review the whole gamut of bilateral relations. He will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Binay Mohan Kwatra, Joint Secretary Anurag Srivastava, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi and officials from Border Management under the MEA.

After co-chairing the JC meeting, Jaishankar is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and President Ram Chandra Paudel. He is scheduled to hold a meeting with the top leaders of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

In the evening, Foreign Minister Saud is scheduled to host a dinner reception in his honor. At the dinner reception organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there will be a group meeting with the leaders of the parliamentary parties represented in parliament, the chairpersons of the parliamentary committees, and the top leaders of the major political parties.

Government officials involved in the preparations of the visit said foreign ministers of the two countries are scheduled to jointly inaugurate three cross-border transmission lines of 132 kVA.

The two foreign ministers of both the countries will inaugurate the Raxaul-Parwanipur transmission line connecting the Bihar state of India, Kushaha-Kataiya transmission line and Nautanwa-Mainahiya transmission line connecting India’s Uttar Pradesh state.

Likewise, a 10,000 megawatt electricity trade agreement is scheduled to  be signed in the presence of the foreign ministers of Nepal and India. According to highly-placed government sources, the MoU is scheduled to be signed on Thursday between the Secretary of the Ministry of Energy of India, Pankaj Agarwal and the Secretary of the Ministry of Energy of Nepal, Gopal Sigdel.

For this, a team from the Ministry of Energy of India has already arrived in Kathmandu to sign a medium-term and long-term energy agreement between Nepal and India. The joint secretary level meeting of the Ministry of Energy of Nepal and India was  held in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

Nepal and India are planning to create an energy bank. If there is an agreement at the joint secretary level, this agenda will be finalized in the meeting of the secretary level joint directorate committee of the Ministry of Energy to be held in Chitwan on January 5-6.

Government officials said the Nepali side will raise various issues including the new air entry route during the JC meeting.  The Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) will propose a new air route for third-country airlines to enter Nepal through Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, and Mahendranagar.

According to high-level government sources, MoCTCA is going to put forward a proposal to fix the date of the meeting of the Technical Coordination Team for the operation of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) installed at Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.

MoCTCA has also prepared a proposal to seek India’s approval to operate direct flights from Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) to various cities in India. India will also be requested to grant permission for Buddha Air’s direct flights to other cities in India such as Patna, Lucknow, Gaya, and Dehradun.

Sources indicate that a request for permission for Himalayan Airlines to fly to India is also expected to be made during the JC meeting. The Nepali side has also proposed allowing Nepal Airlines Corporation (NCA) aircraft to fly from Bhairahawa and Pokhara to various Indian cities, including New Delhi.

Jaishankar will return home on Friday after inaugurating a library building built with Indian assistance at Kirtipur-based Tribhuvan University– the oldest university of Nepal.

Source: Republica