Nepal, India to harness energy potential

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    KATHMANDU, JUL 27 – In an understanding to harness Nepal’s abundant hydropower potential for mutual benefit, Nepal and India have agreed to finalise the text of a power trade agreement (PTA) soon.

    The third meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission underlined that an agreement on trade in the power sector could be an important step towards promoting and strengthening friendly relations.

    Visiting Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj meets Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at the PM's residence in Baluwatar.
    Visiting Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj meets Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar.

    The meeting took up six dozen bilateral agendas pending or arising on both sides in the past 23 years and addressed most of them. During the negotiations with the Indian side, Nepali officials made it clear that there should be a political consensus in Nepal before a bilateral deal could be reached.

    The meeting of the joint commission concluded on Saturday. It directed the formation of a joint committee between the Ministry of Power from India and the Ministry of Energy from Nepal to discuss the draft agreement and related issues so that it could be concluded at an early date. The meeting also stated that the Arun III and Upper Karnali hydropower projects, which are proposed to be developed under Indian private/public sector investment and meant mainly to export power to India, see a progress in project development agreement (PDA) negotiations. It expressed desire for early conclusion of the two agreements and initiations on PDAs of Upper Marsyangdi and Tamaksohi II hydel projects. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the meeting which is expected to create an environment conducive to the visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi to Nepal.

    “We are happy at the outcome of the meeting—a great way forward after 23 years,” said Officiating Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi.

    The negotiating parties, however, failed to set a timeline for completing the negotiations for PDA and PTA. They agreed to form the Panchewswor Development Authority in Mahendranagar, Nepal, and directed authorities concerned for early completion of the DPR of the Pancheshwor Multipurpose Project.

    The meeting expressed satisfaction at the implementation of the 400 kV Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur double circuit cross-border transmission interconnection and decided to expedite the construction of the 132 kV Kataiya-Kusaha and 132 kV Raxaul-Parwanipur transmission line projects in order to facilitate the import of additional power from India as a short-term measure to help address the power deficit situation in Nepal.

    “Nepal has tremendous potential for hydroelectricity and excess generation can be exported to India.

    India has the market so we should engage for a win-win situation,” said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry of India.

    “We stand ready to cooperate at a pace that Nepal is comfortable with. The joint commission meetings underscore the importance of harnessing hydropower potential of Nepal for mutual benefit.”

    The Nepali side reiterated its support for India’s candidacy for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

    The two sides directed the foreign secretaries to make necessary recommendations for reviewing, adjusting and updating the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1950) to reflect current realities.

    The meeting also noted Nepal’s trade deficit with India and agreed to take effective measures to address the problem.

    Both the sides stressed the need to complete necessary formalities to implement the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement.

    In order to promote Nepal’s exports to India, the Indian side agreed to relaxing further the rules of origin requirements; simplifying and streamlining transit and customs related procedures; eliminating TBT and making the SPS related measures less stringent; and lifting quantitative restrictions on the export of Nepali products to India.

    The meeting also discussed the possibilities of extending cooperation for the development and conservation of Pashupatinath, Lumbini, Janakpur and Barahachhetra areas.

    Joint commission agreements

    – Border Working Group set up

    – Early finalisation of power trade agreement and power development agreements

    – Nepal’s vote for India in UN bid

    – Mechanisms to review and update all treaties

    – Support for agriculture university

    – Measures to reduce trade deficit with India

    – Pancheshwor Dev Authority in Mahendranagar

    Source : The Kathmandu Post