Nepal‚ India power trade talks to begin today

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    Nepali delegation optimistic about ‘negotiated agreement’ receiving initials at the end of the meet

    PTA-1KATHMANDU: A seven-member delegation, appointed by the government today, is leaving for New Delhi tomorrow to hold negotiations on the much-touted Power Trade Agreement (PTA) with the Indian government.

    If talks turn out to be fruitful, energy secretaries of Nepal and India will initial the ‘negotiated PTA’ at the end of the meeting, which is expected to conclude on Thursday, but may extend till Friday.

    Nepali delegation is being led by Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri. Other members of the delegation include Joint Secretary at Ministry of Energy (MoE) Keshab Dhoj Adhikari, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amrit Bahadur Rai, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Law Narendra Man Shrestha, Officiating Managing Director at Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Ram Chandra Pandey, Senior NEA Official Sher Singh Bhat and an engineer from the MoE. 

    These officials are leaving for India after a Cabinet meeting held today endorsed MoE’s proposal to dispatch the team to start negotiations on PTA. Two officials of the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi are also expected to join the talks. 

    “We have been given the mandate to discuss all the issues with the Indian side,” Energy Secretary Kshatri told The Himalayan Times. “If talks end conclusively, we will initial the negotiated PTA.”

    Nepal and India had initially planned to hold talks on PTA in New Delhi from July 21 to 22, which, once sealed, would officially allow Nepal to purchase electricity in case of shortage and sell surplus power to southern neighbour.

    However, the meeting could not take place as Deputy Premier Bam Dev Gautam, who was heading the Cabinet at the time in the absence of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, did not approve MoE’s proposal to send a delegation to India.

    The Cabinet at that time had refused to give permission, as the PTA draft forwarded by India had raised some eyebrows here, with many politicians claiming the deal would give sole authority to Indian government or companies to build hydroelectric projects in Nepal.

    Following that controversy, a three-party panel comprising Finance Minister and leader of Nepali Congress Ram Sharan Mahat, CPN-UML’s Bhim Rawal and Unified CPN-Maoist’s Narayan Kaji Shrestha was formed. It was asked to finalise the draft of the power trade agreement. 

    The draft, prepared with the support of MoE officials, was then forwarded to India on August 1.

    In the draft of the PTA prepared by the panel, Nepal had proposed to focus solely on power trading and building cross border transmission lines to import and export power, without touching upon the issue of power generation.

    “They (the Indian side) have welcomed our draft and said it (the draft PTA) can be used as a basis for negotiations. They have said other issues can be discussed during the meeting in New Delhi,” MoE Joint Secretary Adhikari had earlier told THT. 

    Source : The Himalayan Times