PTA with India – Serious initiation necessary

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    PTA-1With the much-awaited visit of Indian foreign minister and prime minister to Nepal being worked out, the government officials here are expecting a major cooperation between the two countries in the hydropower sector which would benefit the both. The Indian envoy to Nepal, Ranjit Rae, has already begun his homework to facilitate the visit by meeting concerned government officials in which he has assured of a major economic package. The booming economy of our close neighbor India has become one of the most important topics of discussions lately as we believe that Nepal could benefit a lot from it. Due to its strategic location too, Nepal has no other option than to find ways to further its cooperation with the southern neighbor and begin charting the course to build a prosperous Nepal. And, development of one key sector that could benefit both Nepal and India is the hydropower sector, as Nepal has immense potential but has not been able to harness it. Along with the economic growth, India will need a huge amount of energy in the immediate future and Nepal has the capacity to fulfill that need. Therefore, any cooperation between the two countries in the hydropower development would be beneficial to both the countries. 

    Good news is that cooperation in the hydropower sector has already begun, as few Indian companies have already received the licenses to survey and build different hydropower projects. However, due to the lack of Power Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries, the investors are yet to be assured of the outcome. Hence, the government officials, while talking to this daily, have put the signing of PTA high on the agenda for the Indian dignitaries’ visits. PTA would not only open Nepal’s energy market to the southern neighbor but also attract investment from multi-national companies. Thus, the government officials here expect that the visit of Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj in the third week of July and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s likely visit in August would help create an environment to move further ahead in the much-needed cooperation in the hydropower sector. And the signing of PTA would be a good beginning.

    The government has even included PTA with India in its policies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year. Those in the know believe that PTA would not only pave the way for power trading, but also assure and encourage investors who are still hesitant to invest due to lack of market assurance. Though Nepal sent a proposal for PTA in 2010, India remained silent. However, India has recently forwarded a proposal saying that it is ready for ‘energy cooperation’, according to government officials. Dhalkebar-Mujaffarpur transmission line is already under construction while another cross-border transmission line linking Bardaghat of Nepal to Gorakhpur of India is currently under study. And the Indian ambassador Rae is known to have told our energy minister that India wants to speed up the works on Pancheshwar Multi Purpose Project by establishing a joint project implementation office in Kanchanpur. These are some of the positive indications coming from the Indian side which could actually kick off the much-needed cooperation in the hydropower sector. One thing is sure. Signing of PTA could boost the much-needed confidence between the two countries, as both sides need to work out the details by guaranteeing a mutual benefit. The upcoming visits of the Indian dignitaries are definitely a good opportunity to begin this cooperation in earnest.

    Source : Republica