India, Nepal agree to boost joint infra projects

New Delhi: Describing their bilateral ties as “deep, comprehensive and multi-faceted”, India and Nepal today decided to expedite various joint infrastructure projects such as laying of rail links and building of roads.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held comprehensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba and later in a joint statement the two leaders expressed satisfaction over the excellent state of India-Nepal relations.

Modi appreciated the efforts being made by the government of Nepal to take all sections of the society on board in the constitution implementation process and in establishing Nepal as a federal, democratic republic, the statement said.

“Both sides recognised the need for early completion of two ongoing cross-border rail-link projects: (a) Jayanagar- Bijalpur-Bardibas and (b) Jogbani-Biratnagar rail-links.

“The two prime ministers noted with satisfaction that the railway line from Jayanagar to Janakpur and from Jogbani to Biratnagar Custom Yard will be completed by 2018. The Nepali side committed to resolve all issues for expeditious completion of both the projects,” it said.

As per the bus services, it was agreed that the Joint Working Group on Cross-Border Transport Facilitation will meet early to address operational issues for existing and additional routes.

“The two prime ministers noted with satisfaction the utilisation of the two Lines of Credit of USD 100 million and USD 250 million for development of roads and power infrastructure in Nepal,” it added.

They welcomed the allocation of USD 200 million for irrigation projects, and USD 330 million for development of roads from Lines of Credit of USD 550 million.

The two leaders pledged to pursue new opportunities to further deepen bilateral relations for the benefit of the peoples of both countries, while committing to further reinvigorate the existing mechanisms.

“The two prime ministers welcomed the visits of members of Legislature-Parliament of Nepal to India and expressed hope to see increased frequency of such engagements between the two parliaments,” the statement said.

They also expressed satisfaction at the excellent cooperation on security-related matters.

It was also agreed to identify at the earliest projects under the USD 750 million Line of Credit for post-earthquake reconstruction.

Both Prime Ministers directed their respective officials to finalise the MoU between the Pashupati Area Development Trust and the Archaeological Survey of India for reconstruction and renovation work.

Deuba “expressed concern” over Nepal’s growing trade deficit with India. Noting the current level of bilateral trade, the two prime ministers underscored that there is a considerable potential to enhance the bilateral trade, which could be harnessed by addressing infrastructural deficiencies and trade restricting measures, it said.

The two prime ministers urged a constructive pursuit of a forward-looking development agenda wherein each country could learn from and contribute to the social and economic initiatives of a transformative nature.

“Towards this objective, it was agreed to initiate an annual policy dialogue between the NITI Aayog of India and the National Planning Commission of Nepal,” it added.

The Prime Minister of Nepal extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of India to pay a visit to Nepal. Modi accepted the invitation and it was agreed that the visit would take place at mutually convenient dates.