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India and Nepal: Evergreen friends, burgeoning prospects

New Delhi [India], March 30 (ANI): Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will pay an official visit to India from April 1 to 3. This is the first official visit of PM Deuba after assuming office in July 2021.

Deuba has visited India in each of his four earlier stints as the Prime Minister of the Himalayan nation. His last visit to India was in 2017.

Thereafter, the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal held a meeting on the side-lines of the COP-26 Glasgow summit in 2021. PM Deuba is also expected to visit Gujarat for the Vibrant Gujarat summit-2022 but it was cancelled due to the pandemic situation.

Prime Minister Deuba is also scheduled to visit Varanasi where he will visit the holy Kashi Vishwanath temple and a Nepali temple also known as Shri Samrajeswar Pashupatinath Mahadev Mandir. The Nepali temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was envisaged by Nepali King Rana Bahadur Shah who was exiled to the city from 1800 to 1804 A.D.

During the exile, he decided to build a replica of Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath temple in the city. The construction of the temple was taken forward by his son Girvan Yuddha Bikram Shah. The temple belongs to the Nepal government and is one of the most famous temples of the holy city, Varanasi.

Under the vaccine Maitri initiative, India had gifted around 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Nepal.

Ever since the commencement of Vaccination in India, it has committed to the supply of vaccines to other countries as well, to ensure vaccine equity. India had handed over vaccines to Nepal under grants assistance in sync with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Nepal has also placed an order of 2 million vaccines with Pune-based pharmaceutical company Serum Institute of India.

Earlier, India had pledged one billion US dollars as support for earthquake reconstruction; one-fourth of it was committed as grant assistance to be utilized for health, cultural heritage, housing and education sectors.

Over the last five years and more, India has substantially fulfilled its commitment under various priority sectors identified by the Government of Nepal. Recently, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has mentioned that the reconstruction of 50,000 owner-driven houses in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts under Indian assistance has been completed.

The projects in the remaining sectors of health, education and culture are also in progress. It is important to note that India is funding the reconstruction of 70 schools and a library, 132 health facilities and 28 cultural heritage sector projects in various earthquake-affected districts of Nepal.

India’s development cooperation with Nepal is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional and has stood the test of time. As close partners with unparalleled civilizational and socio-cultural connections, mutual support and solidarity in times of need have been an integral part of bilateral ethos and action underscoring that India will always unhesitatingly step up to support the people of Nepal whenever called to do so.

A Memorandum of Understanding on rebuilding around 137 health posts with Indian financial assistance that India had announced in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake is also likely to be signed. Meanwhile, India agreed to fund the reconstruction of 25 health posts in Dhading.

In September 2021, India and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding for the reconstruction of 14 cultural heritage and 103 health sector projects damaged by the devastating 2015 earthquake in the country. These projects will be reconstructed at a cost of NPR420 crore (USD 36 million).

Both nations also finalized the draft of a mutual recognition agreement between quality certificates issued by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control of Nepal and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. This agreement is expected to ease the import and export of various food items between the two countries.

It is important to highlight that India is Nepal’s largest trading partner. The volume of bilateral trade has reached over NPR 976.78 billion during the fiscal year 2020-21 with imports from India amounting to NPR 886.59 billion and exports to India standing over NPR 90.19 billion. India accounted for almost 65 per cent ($8.2 billion) of Nepal’s total trade in 2017-18.

In a meeting of the joint working group on tourism cooperation between India and Nepal both the countries agreed to facilitate citizens while providing leave travel concession (LTC) and also for overland travel of vehicles on a reciprocal basis. It was also decided to jointly promote the Ramayan Circuit and the Buddhist Circuit to develop tourism in both countries.

A transnational Buddhist circuit train between India and Nepal is already in place. The Indian Railways runs the Buddhist Circuit train between India and Nepal whose journey will cover pilgrimage sites significant to Gautam Buddha’s life in both India and Nepal.

A decision to construct a ‘Buddha’ gate at Sunauli-Behaliya on the Nepal-India border point was also taken. It was decided to promote adventure tourism, start air connectivity to Lumbini and establish a Nepal-India tourism forum. Moreover, the meeting also decided to start an exchange of human resources to develop the tourism sector and list medical facilities for tourists in both countries.

Recently, the three substations under the Modi-Lekhnath Transmission Line and Substations Project, being financed under India’s Line of Credit of USD 250 million were inaugurated. This is one of the 75 projects being inaugurated in 2022 in Nepal as part of “India@75 Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” which celebrates 75 years of India’s independence.

The Modi-Lekhnath project involves the construction of a 42 km long power transmission line and its associated substations at New Modi, Laha Chowk and Lekhnath in the central part of Nepal. Also, two new buildings for the school have been constructed at a cost of NPR 31.00 million under India-Nepal Development Cooperation with India’s financial assistance. Since 2003, India had taken up over 523 schools in Nepal and completed 467 projects.

In addition to these, India also gifted 7 ambulances to various health posts in the district. Nepal looks to secure air entry points from India through Mahendranagar and Nepalgunj in west Nepal so that international carriers can land at the two new regional airports that have come up at Bhairahawa and Pokhara.

The Gautam Buddha International Airport is already planning to start commercial flights may be on Buddha Jayanti on May 16, 2022. Thus, both countries may decide on the resumption of flights.

It is confirmed by the latest edition of a Governmental journal published in March 2022 edition that Nepal has adopted the unified payment interface developed by India for digital transactions. “Many countries had already praised the CoWin app, which was generated for vaccination during the first COVID-19 period and Nepal has now adopted India’s UPI for digital transactions.

It will accentuate interoperable real-time person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions. Even as bilateral ties are continuously touching new heights, PM Deuba’s three-day visit would add a new chapter to the relationship between two evergreen cordial neighbours. (ANI)

This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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