India, Nepal hold meeting to review bilateral projects amid border row

at 9:09 pm

Kathmandu (NVI): Senior diplomats of India and Nepal held a virtual meeting today, two days after Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey greetings on the Independence Day, in developments that could be seen as breaking of ice in soured relations.

The meeting of the ‘Oversight Mechanism’ reviewed the status of various development projects being undertaken in Nepal with Indian assistance and other joint projects, like developing a Ramayana circuit.

Nepalese Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra led the delegations of their respective countries. A comprehensive review of the bilateral cooperation was undertaken where both sides discussed ways to expedite implementation.

The phone call by Oli to Modi and today’s meeting took place against the backdrop of strain in the relations between the two countries. The strains emerged after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8. Nepal protested it, claiming that it passed through its territory.

Days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories. Subsequently, in June, Nepal’s Parliament approved the new political map of the country featuring areas, which India maintains belong to it. India termed the move as “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims by Nepal.

There have been certain other utterances by PM Oli which have caused discomfort in India.

Today’s meeting made a thorough review of the implementation of the projects under bilateral cooperation, the Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in an official statement.

“During the meeting, discussions were held on the status of implementation of the on-going projects under Nepal-India bilateral cooperation covering terai roads, cross-border railways, Arun-III hydropower project, petroleum products pipelines, Pancheshwar multipurpose project, post-earthquake reconstruction, irrigation, power and transmission lines,” the official statement by Nepal foreign ministry read.

The diplomats also held discussions on the construction of Nepal Police Academy, integrated check posts, Ramayana circuit, HICDPs, motorable bridges over Mahakali River, agriculture and cultural heritage, among others.

The Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism was set up after the State Visit to India by the Prime Minister of Nepal in September 2016 to oversee the implementation of bilateral projects and take necessary steps for their completion in time, the Nepal Foreign Ministry said, adding the ninth meeting of the Mechanism will take place on a mutually convenient date.

The 7th Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism meeting was held on July 8, 2019.