When Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visits Nepal, a number of key agreements, including one on the purchase of electricity, are expected to be signed. The Pancheshwar project and a 10,000 MW power purchase/sale agreement are expected to be finalized during Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s participation in the meeting of the Nepal-India foreign minister level mechanism, the date of which is yet to be fixed.
During a discussion with editors on Monday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that the visit of Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar is nearly confirmed, and preparations are underway to sign an important agreement during his visit. During Prime Minister Dahal’s visit to India from May 31 to June 3, a long-term electricity trade agreement was signed between the two countries. Additionally, an agreement was reached to advance the Pancheshwar project.
In a joint press conference during Dahal’s India visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned a long-term power trade agreement with Nepal, setting a target to import 10,000 megawatts of electricity from Nepal in 10 years. However, there has been no visible progress in this regard even six months after the announcement.
Similarly, the Mahakali Treaty of 2052 BS stipulated that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Pancheshwar project would be completed within six months, and construction would commence immediately. Despite discussions on progress during bilateral visits, actual implementation remains pending.
Although Prime Minister Dahal mentioned Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s upcoming visit to Nepal, he did not disclose the exact date of the visit.
Uncertainty surrounding Jaishankar’s visit
The joint mechanism at the level of Foreign Ministers, where all aspects of Nepal-India relations are discussed in detail, has been in place for 32 years. Only six meetings of the mechanism have been held thus far. The last meeting took place on January 15, 2021, in New Delhi, led by Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and Indian counterpart Dr. S Jaishankar.
The seventh meeting is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu, but the date has not been fixed due to uncertainties surrounding the timing of the Indian Foreign Minister. Previous preparations for the meeting were hindered by India’s involvement in organizing the G-20 conference of powerful nations. Minister NP Saud had initially announced that preparations for the meeting were underway, and it was expected to take place by October or November. However, Jaishankar’s visit and the meeting of the mechanism are yet to be finalized.
According to sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the elections in five Indian states have concluded, and preparations are in progress to hold a meeting of the mechanism before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. However, it is uncertain whether Jaishankar will visit Nepal, with the possibility of citing the election as a reason. The elections in five states have been completed, and the results were announced on Monday, raising suspicions about the likelihood of Jaishankar’s visit to Nepal during the upcoming Lok Sabha election in May.