HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal and India today signed 10 agreements and memorandums of understanding on development of Arun-III hydroelectric project, extension of $1 billion credit, construction of a modern police academy, tourism promotion and operation of cross-country passenger bus service, among others.
These agreements or MoUs were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Indian PM Narendra Modi, who arrived in Kathmandu today to attend 18th SAARC Summit.
Soon after landing here, Modi, together with PM Koirala, inaugurated the Trauma Centre at Bir Hospital built with Indian support. There he said arrangement would soon be made so that Nepalis working in India and Indian tourists could bring up to INR 25,000 in denominations of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes to Nepal.
Since May 2000, individuals travelling from Nepal to India or from India to Nepal have been barred from carrying Indian notes of 500- and 1,000-rupee denominations. India had introduced the provision to curb circulation of counterfeit Indian currencies and unauthorised trade.
At the ceremony, Modi also said he would provide a mobile soil testing laboratory to Nepal, which was later handed over to Agriculture Secretary Jaya Mukunda Khanal by Saroj Kumar Poddar, chairman of Paradeep Phosphates Limited, India.
“The mobile laboratory will help farmers to identify crops that best suit the soil condition and adopt best agricultural practices,” Modi said.
After attending the inauguration ceremony, Modi, along with PM Koirala, reached Army Pavilion in Tundikhel, where he handed over an Advance Light Helicopter to Koirala. The chopper would be used by the Nepali Army, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The duo then headed towards the Prime Minister’s Office in Singha Durbar, where six agreements and four MoUs were signed.
One of the key pacts signed today was on development of 900MW Arun-III hydroelectric project. A Project Development Agreement in this regard was signed by Radhesh Pant, CEO of Investment Board Nepal, and RP Singh, chairman and managing director of India’s state-owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, the project developer. The export-oriented hydroelectric project will extend 21.9 per cent power — or 197.1 megawatts — free of cost to the government and shares worth Rs 1.6 billion or more to the locals.
Another agreement was on operation of passenger bus service between cities of Nepal and India. Immediately after signing the motor vehicle pact, the two premiers inaugurated the service by seeing off a bus plying officially for the first time on Kathmandu-New Delhi route.
Another agreement signed today was on extension of $1 billion (approximately Rs 98. 29 billion) credit line to Nepal via Export-Import Bank of India. Modi had pledged to offer the credit during his previous visit to Nepal in the first week of August.
Although Nepal is yet to select projects to make use of this fund, which will be offered at one per cent interest, the government has said it would invest the money to develop hydropower, irrigation and infrastructure projects.
Three sister-city agreements between Kathmandu and Varanasi, Janakpur and Ayodhya, and Lumbini and Bodhgaya were also signed today. These pacts are expected to deepen cultural ties between the respective cities.
The duo also signed an MoU on construction of a new, modern and well-equipped National Police Academy. The academy will be built through grant assistance extended by India.
Another MoU signed was on tourism promotion between the two countries and cooperation in the field of hospitality sector. MoUs on joint cooperation in youth development and strengthening and promotion of bilateral cooperation in the field of traditional medicine were also signed.