IRS |Institute of Regional Studies

Islamabad

Contemporary Regional Developments in Nepal

12th April - 17th April
  • Minor Explosion Near Indian Embassy Camp Office In Nepal, No Injuries
    A small explosion has hit an Indian consulate camp office in Nepal's Biratnagar, officials said. No one was injured in the explosion that took place at the temporary office of the Indian consulate at the province capital, 380 kilometres from Kathmandu. The explosion was reported at 8:20 pm on 16 April, 2018. It created a hole on the compound wall of the embassy camp, which is toward the secluded rear area of the main office building, officials said. The temporary office was set up by India during the floods in Nepal and north Bihar in 2015. The office has been functioning since then. No one was at the camp when the explosion struck, officials said. SSenior police officer Arun Kumar said they are investigating who could be behind the explosion, the Kathmandu Post reported. Investigators suspect that members of a local political group, which had called a strike in Biratnagar on 16.4.2018, could have a hand in the explosion. (NDTV; 17.4.2018)
  • OAG report: Questions hover over Nepal Army’s helicopter purchase
    The Office of Auditor General (OAG) has raised question over Nepal Army’s decisions to purchase three helicopters—one medium and two light helicopters—without or limited competition. However, the Army has defended its decisions, saying that they were taken out of compulsion and necessity. (Kathmandupost 16.4.2018)
4th April - 11th April
  • KP Oli returns to Kathmandu after 'significant and fruitful' visit
    • Oli and his wife were accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and were received personally by President Ram Nath Kovind and Modi. "No other countries in the world have the bonds of friendship and cooperation that exist between India and Nepal. Regular exchanges of visits at the highest political level demonstrate the priority that we attach to our special partnership," Kovind said on Twitter shortly after the meeting.
    • "India’s abiding interest is in the stability and economic prosperity of Nepal. India stands ready to expand cooperation with Nepal as per Nepal’s priorities," the president added. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, along with former prime minister Manmohan Singh also met Oli and other senior government officials in New Delhi.
    • Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line
      During the diplomatic dialogue, the two countries agreed to conduct "feasibility studies" regarding construction of a Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line and operating Nepalese steamers to transport goods and people from Nepal to other countries. An official statement said the the two prime ministers agreed to construct the new electrified rail line, "with India's financial support", connecting the border city of Raxaul in India to Nepal's capital.
    • The proposal is politically significant, and comes nearly two years after China agreed to construct a strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet to reduce Kathmandu's total dependence on India. In 2016, China also signed a transit trade treaty with Nepal that completely depends on Indian sea ports for third-country trade. Apart from this, China is also building three highways connecting Nepal and these roads are expected to be ready by 2020.
    • The Nepal-China agreements came at a time when Kathmandu-New Delhi ties started to sour after a border blockade in 2015-16. Many in Kathmandu blamed India for the 135-day blockade from September 2015 to February 2016 that crippled Nepal's economy. The agreement on the proposed Raxaul-Kathmandu railway link indicates a new India-Nepal bonhomie, experts say.
    • Oli assured that "Nepal will extend full cooperation for early completion of the requisite surveys for the new rail line".
    • However, this is not the first railway project the two neighbours have agreed on. Construction of railway lines from Jayanagar to Janakpur and from Jogbani to Biratnagar are already underway, whicle three other railway projects remain in the pipeline: New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta, Nautanwa-Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.
    • Agriculture, hydropower projects
      The two prime ministers recognised the untapped potential of inland waterways running between the two countries that can contribute in an overall economic development of the Himalayan region.
    • Towards that, an official statement said that a "landmark decision" was undertaken to develop the inland waterways for the movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, providing additional access to sea for Nepal.
    • This is likely to enable cost-effective and efficient movement of cargo, and greatly impact the growth of business and economy of Nepal.
    • "An important result of our commitment to our bilateral cooperation is the decision of cooperation in inland waterways. With our assistance, Nepal will get an extra connectivity to the sea. And the country of Everest will be able to connect directly to the ocean. I believe that this is a historical beginning. Nepal will not only be land-linked, but water-linked also," Modi said in his statement.
    • Boosting ties further, India also agreed to conduct a pilot project on organic farming and soil health monitoring in Nepal to help the natural resource-rich neighbour in developing agriculture and allied sectors. "Agriculture is one of the areas where India has made significant progress and Nepal could learn from it," Oli said.
  • (The Indian Express April 9, 2018)

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