India, Nepal resolve boundary dispute amicably

New Delhi:┬áPrime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on Thursday vowed to resolve the vexed boundary dispute under the spirit of friendship even as the two sides signed several major pacts including one on increasing New Delhi’s import of power from the neighbouring country to 10,000 mega watt in the next 10 years.

In the wide-ranging talks between Modi and Prachanda, the Indian side agreed to the first trilateral power trade from Nepal to Bangladesh through India for up to 40 mega watt of power, a move that is seen as a significant step towards ensuring greater regional cooperation.

Modi also said India will continue to strive to take the relationship with Nepal to Himalayan heights.

In total, India and Nepal signed seven pacts which included a revised treaty of transit that was described by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra as “once in a generation kind of an agreement” as it would provide Nepal access to inland waterways of India for the first time and expected to contribute very significantly to expansion of trade and investment linkages.

The two sides also firmed up several new initiatives to expand cooperation in areas of hydro-electric power, petroleum infrastructure, railway connectivity, cross-border payment systems and trade and investment as part of a futuristic approach to expand the overall trajectory of bilateral ties.

In his media statement, Modi said he and Prachanda took many important decisions to make the partnership between the two countries a “super hit” in the future.

“We will continue to strive to take our relationship to Himalayan heights. And in this spirit, we will resolve all the issues, be it boundary related or any other issue,” Modi said in his media statement in presence of Prachanda.

In his comments, the Nepalese prime minister said he and Modi discussed the boundary matter. “I urge prime minister Modi-ji to resolve the boundary matter through the established bilateral diplomatic mechanism,” he said.

Ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Kathmandu published a new political map in 2020 that showed three Indian territories — Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh — as part of Nepal.

India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioned Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

sked at a media briefing about the boundary dispute, Foreign Secretary Kwatra referred to the comments by the two prime ministers and said they not only speak of the intent of the two leaders and the two systems, they also speak about the specifics through which they intend this to be carried forward.

To a question on whether the China factor figured in the talks, Kwatra said the discussions also covered wider developments and challenges and how the two countries should cooperate to mitigate them.

In his remarks, Modi also referred to his priority in strengthening ties with Nepal after he took charge as the prime minister nine years ago.

“I remember, nine years ago, in 2014, within three months of taking office, I made my first visit to Nepal. At that time I had given a ‘hit’ formula for India-Nepal relations — Highways, I-ways, and Trans-ways,” Modi said.
“I had said that we will establish such a relationship between India and Nepal that our borders do not become barriers between us,” he said.

Modi said he was feeling proud to say after nine years that “our partnership has been really a ‘hit'”.

He also said to further strengthen cultural and religious ties, “Prachanda and I decided that projects related to Ramayana circuit should be expedited”.

Following the talks, Modi and Prachanda remotely unveiled the Kurtha-Bijalpura section of railway line, virtually flagged off a cargo train from Bathnaha (India) to Nepal Customs Yard and inaugurated Integrated Checkposts (ICPs) at Nepalgunj in Nepal and Rupaidiha on the Indian side.

They also remotely joined the ground breaking ceremonies for ICPs at Bhairahawa (Nepal) and Sonauli (India), phase-II facilities under Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline as well as kick started the project for construction of the Indian portion of Gorakhpur-Bhutwal transmission line.

“Last year we adopted a landmark vision document for cooperation in the power sector. Taking this forward, a long term power trade agreement has been signed between India and Nepal today. Under this, we have set a target of importing 10,000 MW of electricity from Nepal in the coming ten years,” Modi said.

At present, India imports around 450 MW of power from Nepal.

Referring to the revised transit pact, Modi said, “Today Prime Minister Prachanda ji and I have taken many important decisions to make our partnership a super hit in the future. Today the transit agreement has been concluded. In this, along with new rail routes for the people of Nepal, provision has also been made for the facility of India’s inland waterway.”

“We decided to increase physical connectivity by setting up new rail links,” he said.

In the talks, it was agreed to set up a fertilizer plant in Nepal by India.

According to Kwatra, India decided to fund three major transmission corridors in Nepal under the line of credit support of about USD 680 million.

In his comments, Prachanda said he and Modi carried out an “extensive review” of the progress in the ties and renewed their commitment to further strengthen the relations and cooperation.

The Nepalese prime minister said he appreciated Modi’s “neighbourhood first policy”.

“The relations between Nepal and India are age-old and multi-faceted. This relationship stands on the solid foundation built on one hand by the rich tradition of civilisational, cultural and socio-economic linkage and on the other by the firm commitment of the two countries to the time-tested principle of sovereign equality, mutual respect, understanding and cooperation,” he said.

He said the two sides discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation in diverse areas including trade, transit, investment, hydro-power, power trade, irrigation, power transmission line, expansion of petroleum pipeline, construction of integrated check post and land and air connectivity.

“We are happy to see the remarkable transformation of India’s economic and development landscape under the able leadership of PM Modi. I congratulate PM Modi on the completion this week of nine years in government with far reaching achievement in many fronts,” Prachanda said.

The Nepalese leader arrived here on Wednesday on a four-day visit.

Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.

The country shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.

Nepal’s access to the sea is through India, and it imports a predominant proportion of its requirements from and through India.

The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries.