PTA talks to begin on Sept 3


    Agreement will allow Nepal to purchase electricity during a shortage and sell surplus power to the southern neighbour

    The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has proposed to hold much-awaited talks on power trade agreement (PTA) with India from September 3-5 in the Indian capital of New Delhi.

    “A proposal in this regard has already been sent to the Indian side. They have informally agreed on the dates,” MoE Joint Secretary Keshab Dhoj Adhikari told The Himalayan Times. 

    The ministry now needs to get an approval from the Cabinet to travel to India and start negotiations on the power trade deal, which, once sealed, would officially allow Nepal to purchase electricity whenever there is a shortage here and sell surplus power to the southern neighbour.

    Once the permission is extended, a seven-member delegation led by Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri will depart for India. 

    The ministry had decided to begin PTA negotiations based on the invitation sent by the Indian side earlier this month.

    The government had, however, taken some time to respond to the invitation, as it was waiting for the Indian reaction on the draft of the PTA forwarded by Nepal on August 1. Nepal had proposed the dates for the meeting after it received the response of the Indian side some days ago.

    “They (the Indian side) have welcomed our draft and said it (the draft PTA) can be used as a basis for negotiation. They have said other issues can be discussed during the meetings in New Delhi,” Adhikari said. “We are now making preparations for the meeting.”

    If the talks are held this time, both the sides may be able to meet the 45-day deadline on PTA signing extended by the premiers of both the countries. On August 4, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Indian Premier Narendra Modi had agreed to conclude the PTA within 45 days.

    Nepal and India had initially planned to hold talks on PTA in New Delhi from July 21 to 22. To begin the negotiations, a delegation led by Energy Secretary Kshatri was supposed to leave for the Indian capital on July 20. 

    But citing the absence of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala in the country, the Cabinet, which was then headed by Deputy Premier Bam Dev Gautam, did not give clearance for the visit. The Nepali delegation then had to cancel trip in the last hour.

    The Cabinet at that time did not give permission to the Nepali delegation, as the draft of the power trade agreement forwarded by India had raised some eyebrows here, with many politicians claiming signing of the pact would give sole authority to the 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 given the responsibility of finalising 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 power trade agreement 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.

    Source : The Himalayan Times