Nepal and India buckle-up to fast-track the much-discussed Kathmandu-Raxaul railway line and one other important bilateral project!
In a recent development concerning the projects, both nations have decided to sign two important agreements for:
The ‘Kathmandu-Raxaul MoU’ will be signed to facilitate a ‘preliminary’ survey of the upcoming Kathmandu-Raxaul railway line.
When Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli visited India in April, India had agreed to fund the survey. The Indian team has already conducted the baseline study, starting from Chovar, Kathmandu to Raxaul.
“India will fully fund the preliminary survey of the proposed railway line. Nepali and Indian railway officials will jointly conduct the feasibility study,” said Bhrighu Dhungana, Joint secretary, Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
The two sides are also preparing to sign a letter of exchange (LoE) ‘Process Simplification and Additional’ Route’ to facilitate the movement of bulk cargo from three more transit points which will amend the Nepal-India bilateral ‘Transit Treaty’.
“Both the agreements will be signed on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC Summit”, informs an official.
Nepal Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Secretary Chandra Ghimire confirmed this when he said that a LoE will be exchanged between Nepal and India to amend the Transit Treaty and smoothen the process of bulk cargo movement between Jogbani in Biratnagar, Nautanwa & Rupedhiya and Indian gateway ports Kolkata, Haldia and Vishakapatnam.
“This will be a big breakthrough for the Nepali industries. Once we start operating the bulk cargo, at least six types of raw materials needed for Nepali industries will be available right at our border,” said Ghimire.
Currently, Biratnagar is the only gateway for importing big cargo including food supplies such as sugar, salt & other feeds, fertilizer and plastic.
Movement of such cargo is feasible only in Kolkata/Haldia at the Indian side, which results in over one month’s wait in Birgunj.
Recently, India resumed services on the Jainagar-Janakpur railway link after a long gap for four years. The resumption comes as an attempt to foster better connectivity between the two nations.
A successful trial run was conducted to assess transit along the 8.5 km line from the Jainagar railway station in India to Khajuri in Nepal.
At present, Nepal & India have plans for establishing four cross-border railway lines including the Kathmandu-Raxaul link. Included in this list is the upcoming Janakpur-Jayanagar-Kurtha broad gauge rail link which is in its final stage.