Recently, Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli ended his six-day maiden visit to India, during which the two nations discussed issues of mutual concern and signed agreements to improve partnership in several areas of significance.
These developments can be important for your upcoming competitive exams. Therefore, in this article, let us take a look at the highlights of PM Oli’s visit and the agreements signed between the two countries.
At the invitation of the India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli made his first overseas visit (19 – 24 February) after assuming charge as the country’s premier in October 2015. The main aim of the visit was to enhance existing ties with India and take the bilateral relationship to new heights. To this effect, the nations signed seven key agreements, which are as follows:
Agreements signed between India and Nepal
* MoU on utilisation of India’s $250 million grant for post-earthquake reconstruction: It was signed between India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Nepali counterpart Kamal Thapa. It identified four sectors-housing, health, education and cultural heritage-for the utilisation of $250 million grant committed by the Indian government as a part of the assistance package for post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal. While $100 million would be used to build 50,000 houses in 14 of the severely earthquake-affected districts, $50 million each would be used to improve the remaining three sectors in 31 other districts.
* MoU on improving roads in Nepal’s Terai area: This aims to facilitate speedy completion of the remaining work on 17 roads in package 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Terai Road Phase-I project, totalling 518 kms. The construction of two roads, of a total of 87 kms, has already been completed.
* MoU to enhance cultural ties: This agreement aims to enhance relations between the two countries in the field of performing arts through exchanges of experts, exponents, dancers, scholars and intellectuals. The agreement was signed between India’s Sangeet Natak Academy and the Nepal Academy of Music and Drama.
* Letters of Exchange on transit routes: India’s Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia and her Nepalese counterpart Naindra Prasad Upadhyay were the signatories for this agreement.
(a) Transit between Nepal and Bangladesh via Kakarbitta-Banglabandh corridor: This Exchange of Letters between India and Nepal will simplify modalities for traffic of goods between Nepal and Bangladesh while transiting through India, through the Kakarbhitta (Nepal) and Banglabandha (Bangladesh) corridor.
(b) Access to Visakhapatnam Port – This Exchange of Letters will provide transit facilities for Nepal through the Visakhapatnam port.
* Letters of Exchange on rail transport:
(a) Rail transport to/from Visakhapatnam – This Exchange of Letters would allow for rail transport to and from Visakhapatnam to Nepal.
(b) Rail transit facility through Singabad for Nepal’s Trade with and through Bangladesh – This letter will help operationalise rail transit facility through Singabad in India for Nepal’s trade with and through Bangladesh.
* Establishment of Eminent Persons Group: At the third meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission held in July 2014, the nations agreed to institute an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to evaluate bilateral relations and recommend measures, including institutional frameworks to further enhance bilateral ties. The EPG has now been established with eight members (four from each country) and comprises a parliamentarian, a lawyer, an economist and a civil society activist. Nepal’s EPG includes MP Rajan Bhattarai, former Finance Minister Bhek Bahadur Thapa, former chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse and Authority (CIAA) Surya Nath Upadhyay and former Law Minister Nilambar Acharya.
The Indian EPG includes MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, former Sikkim University VC Mahendra Lama, DG of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) Jayant Prasad, and Senior Fellow at Vivekananda International Federation (VIF) B.C. Upreti.
* Inauguration of Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar transmission line – The two premiers inaugurated the 400 KV Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar transmission line. The Nepal portion of the transmission line is being implemented by its government, under an LoC of $13.5 million. With an initial charge of 132 KV, 80 MW power would immediately flow through this line. It will be increased to 200 MW in October 2016 at 220 KV, and then to 600 MW by December 2017 at 400 KV.
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