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Nepal, India Set to Boost Power Trade

The date of the next JSC meeting has not been fixed yet but Nepali officials said that it could be held next month….reports Prithvi Shrestha

Nepal and India have agreed to improve their cross- border transmission infrastructure in order to boost trade of electricity with two sides turning cooperation in the power sector as a cornerstone of bilateral relations.

During the 14th meeting of the Joint Technical Team (JTT) under the Energy Secretary Level Joint Steering Committee (JSC) held in New Delhi on Wednesday, two sides reached an understanding to increase quantum of power to be trade through 400kV Dhalkebar- Muzaffarpur Cross Border Transmission Line and to complete under-construction smaller capacity cross border power lines.

“The understanding will go into implementation, once the next JSC meeting endorses the understanding,” Sandeep Kumra Dev, joint secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, told India Narrative.

The date of the next JSC meeting has not been fixed yet but Nepali officials said that it could be held next month.

Understanding reached during the JTC meeting is important for Nepal as poor transmission infrastructure has emerged as big concerns for the country to boost its export of power to its Southern neighbour and beyond.

Nepal has felt an urgency to develop both domestic and cross border power lines after the Indian Prime Minister announced on June 1 that it would buy 10,000MW of power from Nepal in the next 10 years.

The announcement was made when Nepali Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal visited New Delhi. Currently, Indian authorities have allowed to export upto 632.6MW of power in the Indian market.

As per the latest agreement reached between the two sides, the Dhalkebar- Muzaffarpur transmission line will be used for transmitting power upto 1,000MW from earlier agreed upto 800MW.

During the 10th JSC meeting held in February, two countries agreed to increase the quantum of power that can be transmitted via this power line to 800MW from 600MW.

India has so far allowed Nepal to export up to 562.6MW through this power line while rest from other cross border power lines.

As per the understanding reached at the JTT meeting, Nepal can use spare capacity of the 400kV Dhalkebar- Sitamarhi cross border transmission line which is being constructed by SJVN Arun-3 Power Development Company.

The company was established by India’s state-owned SJVN Limited to develop the 900MW Arun-3 Hydropower Project in eastern Nepal and is also constructing the cross-border power line to evacuate its own power whose capacity is around 2,000MW.

“As Arun-3’s capacity is 900MW, there will be spare capacity in this transmission line until SJVN also develops 669MW Lower Arun and 490MW Arun-4 projects,” said Dev, who led the Nepali team during the JTC meeting.

Nepal had granted licence of developing the Lower Arun to SJVN as a cascade project of Arun-3 while SJVN And Nepal Electricity Authority have signed Memorandum of Understanding to develop the Arun-4 project jointly.

According to the details of agreements obtained by India Narrative, the sides also agreed to complete the 132 kV New Nautanwa- Mainaiya line by October this year and 132 kV Kohalpur-Nanpara by July next year.

Both can be used for exporting and importing power, Nepali officials said.

Currently, there is a single 400kV Dhalkebar- Muzaffarpur cross border transmission line under operation. So, two sides had agreed to make efforts to upgrade existing lower capacity transmission lines so as to boost trading of power between the two countries.

The two neighbours also agreed to conduct a joint visit of their technical teams to see the possibility of building a 220kV cross border transmission line from Nepal’s Mahendranagar to India’s Tanakpur.

In early September, India allowed Nepal to export 70MW of power to India through the existing 132kV Mahendranagar-Tanakpur cross border power line through which only import was taking place earlier.

Then, Nepal has been exporting power generated from two power projects based in far-western Nepal to India through this route. There are about a dozen low-capacity cross border power lines between the two countries, according to the energy ministry of Nepal.

Two countries also agreed to expedite the implementation of proposed 400kV   Dododhara- Bareilly Cross Border transmission line which they earlier agreed to complete by 2028-29. In the last JSC meeting held in February, two countries had agreed to develop and construct this project.  Likewise, they had also agreed to develop the 400kV Inaruwa (Nepal) -Purnia (India) cross- border power line too.

During Prime Minister Dahal’s visit to India, two Prime Ministers had laid a foundation stone remotely to construct the India section of 400kV New Butwal-Gorakhpur transmission line project which is expected to be completed by March 2025.

“Building more cross-border transmission infrastructure along with domestic infrastructure is a must to ensure that Nepal could realise its potential of becoming a clean energy powerhouse of South Asia,” said Dev.

(India Narrative)

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Nepal PM to meet Xi during China visit

In his capacity as Prime Minister, this is Prachanda’s third visit to China, after making trips in 2008 and 2017…reports Asian Lite News

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Friday said he will embark on an official visit to China on September 22, during which he will meet President Xi Jinping and several other top leaders.

“After attending the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, I will leave straight for China’s city of Hangzhou,” Prachanda, as the Prime Minister is popularly known, said in an address to Parliament.

“Nepal and China have shared long, cordial, and closed relations for centuries, and in recent years, these relations have become multi-dimensional and deepened too. China has become Nepal’s development partner and assisting Nepal in its overall developmental endeavors,” he added.

In his capacity as Prime Minister, this is Prachanda’s third visit to China, after making trips in 2008 and 2017.

“This visit will further strengthen the bilateral relations between Nepal and China and will deepen further,” he added.

 In Hangzhou, Prachanda will meet Xi and also attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games.

On September 25, he will meet his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang in Beijing where both leaders will hold delegation-level talks followed by the signing of the some agreements and understandings.

After completing engagements in Beijing, Prachanda will visit Chongqing city where he will make a trip to the Chongqing Academy of Agricultural Sciences and other institutes, according to his schedule.

“After completing the visit in Chongqing, we will leave for Tibet where we will meet senior Chinese government officials with Nepal shares a long border. Then we will return to Kathmandu,” he added.

In his address to Parliament, the Prime Minister also said that discussions will take place seeking Chinese cooperation and assistance in areas like Nepal’s infrastructure development, agriculture, energy, tourism, health, education among others. 

The Himalayan nation will also seek to open the Nepal-China border points which were shut in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the massive 2015 earthquake and the pandemic, several border points between Nepal and China were either totally shut down or have resumed only partially

“As the Prime Minister of Nepal, it is my belief that my visit will strengthen and deepen the traditional, friendly relations with China where we will also seek further avenues of bilateral cooperation,” Prachanda added.

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Kathmandu Mayor axes China trip over map row

This decision comes as a response to his concerns regarding China’s omission of Nepal’s updated map, unveiled in May 2020….reports Asian Lite News

Balen Shah, the Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), has cancelled his planned visit to China over the map row.

Shah, who is known as “hawkish nationalist” and earning fame over taking a tough stand in favour of Nepal’s territory and integrity, has decided to cancel his five-day China visit beginning from Thursday. 

This decision comes as a response to his concerns regarding China’s omission of Nepal’s updated map, unveiled in May 2020.

Taking to Facebook on Thursday, Mayor Shah has stated that he has cancelled his China visit on moral grounds pointing that the Chinese map published Monday on the Ministry of Natural Resources website used the old map of Nepal.

Nepal’s new political map unveiled by the K.P. Oli government on May 20, 2020 and unanimously endorsed by Parliament on June 13 the same year, has now been dismissed by both India and China, the two neighbors.

After India unilaterally released a new political map in November 2019 by incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura areas, which are claimed by Nepal, and refused to entertain Nepal’s concerns over the map, the Oli government, in a tit-for-tat move, unveiled the new map of Nepal in May 2020 by incorporating the three areas. This added a pointed spur on the northwest corner of the Nepal map.

And on Monday night, China released its own political map by including India’s Arunachal Pradesh and the disputed Aksai Chin area in its territory. The map also shows the territories bordering China, but the pointed spur of the Nepal map is notably absent.

The disregard shown by both the neighbours to Nepal’s new map has cast doubts on the map’s validity.

Mayor Balen was all set to embark on a journey to Beijing today, with the purpose of promoting tourism and facilitating cultural exchange.

This visit was extended as an invitation from the Chinese government itself.

However, due to the absence of Nepal’s new map in the version released by the Chinese government, Mayor Balen opted to call off his trip to China.

Balen cancelled his visit to China, expressing grave concerns that the recent map released by the Chinese government does not align with Nepal’s new political map. Instead, it depicts Nepali territory as part of India.

China’s decision to include Nepali territory as a part of India, without consulting Nepal, therefore, he says, he has decided to cancel his five-day visit to China on ethical grounds.

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Prachanda to visit China after UNGA session

PM Dahal informed the parliament that the “new border points and follow-up on earlier accords” will be on the agenda during his visit to Beijing….reports Asian Lite News

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal will embark on a visit to China at the end of next month, following his visit to the United States to address the United Nations General Assembly session.

PM Dahal informed the parliament that the “new border points and follow-up on earlier accords” will be on the agenda during his visit to Beijing.

“During my scheduled visit to China, talks about opening new border points between Nepal and China have been finalized. The Nara Lagna border point in Mugu, I am aware about the issue as being informed from the local authorities as well as the locals from the district, I will attempt to make a decision over it,” Prime Minister Dahal said while replying to a question raised by lawmaker Aain Bahadur Shahi.

In response to another question raised by lawmaker Uday Shumsher JB Rana, PM Dahal said, “During the visit, enforcements of accords and understandings signed earlier will be given priority. The economic relation between the countries would be further enhanced through the operationalization of the border points between the two nations and opening of new border points are agendas of the visit”.

Meanwhile, the Nepal PM is scheduled to visit the United States in the second week of September to address the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) on September 22. After addressing the 78th session of the UNGA, he is expected to fly to China but the cabinet is yet to approve it.

During his visit to New York, the Nepal premier will also participate in various meetings including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit on September 18-19 in the capacity of being the current chair of the least developed countries. (ANI)

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Nepal backtracks on Huawei contracts

It reported that the decision has been taken after concerns about an emerging monopoly within Nepal Telecom…reports Asian Lite News

Nepal Telecom’s contract with Huawei International Singapore about awarding the “Installation and Commissioning of Point of Interconnection” is undergoing a cancellation process, Khabarhub reported on Monday.

It reported that the decision has been taken after concerns about an emerging monopoly within Nepal Telecom.

According to Khabarhub, the bidding process was not fair as Chinese technology firm ‘Huawei International Singapore’ was the only firm that participated in the bidding.

Which led to the matter being sent to the evaluation committee and is now in the midst of a cancellation procedure.

As per the Khabarhub, the decision faced opposition from Nepal Telecom’s senior personnel, and regulatory authorities also expressed concerns.

Despite the regulatory authority’s growing concerns about the potential unfair business deal and monopoly within Nepal Telecom, the cancellation process was eventually initiated.

Adding to the situation, the Commission for the Investigation for Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has commenced an inquiry into potential instances of unfair business dealings and the emergence of monopolistic practices within Nepal Telecom.

Following a technical evaluation, Nepal Telecom deemed three out of the four companies vying for the contract as technically ‘unqualified’.

Earlier, it was reported that Chinese telecom giant, Huawei is conducting 5G testing in Nepal with little transparency, raising concerns over potential corruption issues and monopoly in the country’s telecom sector, Nepal-based Khabarhub reported.

The Chinese telecom giant, which is seen as a security risk by the US and European governments was testing the 5G technology, with little transparency, in Nepal using a frequency of 2600 MHz.The testing has raised concerns among authorities and triggered an investigation by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) over potential corruption issues.

Since the company is already under scrutiny for allegedly being involved in bribery and clandestine operations worldwide, the issue of national security remains a significant concern in its global expansion efforts.

As the company faces allegations of intellectual property theft and espionage in several countries, the issue of national security remains a significant concern in its global expansion efforts, according to Khabarhub.

Additionally, Huawei’s business dealings have led to bans in certain countries and investigations by international authorities.

Earlier, the US and European governments had said that Huawei is a security risk due to concerns about state influence and the potential vulnerability of its fifth-generation networks.

This has also led to objections from countries like India, which have raised red flags against deploying Huawei gear in their own 5G mobile networks.

The company has faced multiple accusations of bribery and corrupt practices worldwide, reported Khabarhub.

Meanwhile, in Algeria, a North African country, the company’s executive was convicted of bribery, resulting in a ban on Huawei from bidding for public contracts.

Similarly, investigations are ongoing in Zambia, where the company is accused of attempting to secure an expensive contract to build cell towers in rural areas through bribery. (ANI)

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Prachanda set for September visits to US, China

During this visit, he is scheduled to engage with senior Chinese officials….reports Asian Lite News

Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as “Prachanda,” is scheduled for visits to the US and China in late September.

Initially, he will attend the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations in the US during the third week of September, the Print reported.

Following his UN address, Prachanda is set to journey to China, the Print reports quoted sources closely connected to the prime minister.

Subsequently, Prachanda will undertake a trip to China, Nepal’s neighboring country to the north, as a member of the Himalayan nation’s delegation for the 19th Asian Games.

During this visit, he is scheduled to engage with senior Chinese officials.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Dean Thompson met Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday. One of the motives for the meeting was to confirm whether the prime minister would attend the upcoming 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, according to sources at the prime minister’s private secretariat, the Kathmandu Post reported.

According to the secretariat sources, the US envoy, besides other bilateral issues, inquired about the prime minister’s plans for the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York, as there might be a potential overlap with his scheduled visit to China. If the prime minister visits New York, he could meet top US leaders and officials on the sidelines.

This year’s United Nations General Assembly will take place from September 18 to 26, even as Dahal plans to head to China around the same time to attend the opening of the 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou City as a guest. The Games will be held from September 23 to October 8, the Kathmandu Post reported.

Nepal’s permanent mission in New York had earlier registered the prime minister’s name on the speakers’ list and confirmed that he would address the morning session of the UNGA on September 22.

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India’s Line of Credit to Nepal crosses $ 1.65 bn mark

In Nepal, it includes four LOCs: $100 million, $250 million, $550 million and 750 million, totaling $1.65 billion…reports Asian Lite News

India’s Line of Credit (LOC) spending on various projects in Nepal has crossed the $1.65 billion mark.

The figure was released on Friday during the 10th India-Nepal LOC Review Meeting held in Kathmandu. 

The government of India’s LOC portfolio is more than $30 billion and is spread across more than 60 partner countries, said a statement issued by the Embassy of India in Kathmandu.

In Nepal, it includes four LOCs: $100 million, $250 million, $550 million and  750 million, totaling $1.65 billion. 

The projects funded under the LOC are dedicated towards infrastructure development as prioritised by government of Nepal, the statement said, adding that so far the LOCs have financed more than 40 road projects (1,105 km completed), six projects in hydropower and transmission lines, and several others in housing and reconstruction.

India is the largest development partner of Nepal as well as trading partner. Major chunks of the Indian LOC go for cross-border power transmission lines. 

Power transmission infrastructure in Nepal has been augmented with major line of credit projects, such as Koshi Corridor (220 kV), Modi Lekhnath (132 kV), Solu Corridor (132 kV) and the Dhalkebar-Bhittamod (400 kV) projects. 

“As of now, upto 452 MW of power export is being carried out through the Dhalkebar-Bhittamod 400 kV line. The government of India has also agreed to fund Bheri Corridor, Nijgadh-Inaruwa and Gandak Nepalgunj Transmission lines and associated substations under Indian LOC at an estimated cost of $ 679.8 million,” the statement added. 

Both sides appreciated the strong cooperation in the India-Nepal Developmental Partnership, including through the LOCs extended to Nepal and reviewed the progress of projects which are at various stages of implementation.

From the Indian side, the meeting was led by Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary, (Development Partnership Administration-I), Ministry of External Affairs; and other officials from the Embassy of India and the EXIM Bank.

From Nepal side, the meeting was led by Shreekrishna Nepal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance, government of Nepal (GoN), and included officials from several departments involved in the execution of projects under the Indian LOC.

The Indian delegation also visited the sites of some road projects funded under the LOC.

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Modi holds talks with Nepal PM, reviews ties

The Final Location Survey report of the Raxaul-Kathmandu rail link was also handed over to the Nepali side during Prachanda’s visit…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held a telephonic conversation with Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda,’ and reviewed various aspects of the India-Nepal bilateral cooperation, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Both leaders followed-up on discussions held during Prime Minister Prachand’s recent visit to India from May 31 to June 3, 2023, the PMO said.

During Prachanda’s visit, six projects were inaugurated and they included handing over of the Kurtha-Bijalpur railway line; operation of the cargo railway between Jogbani in India and Biratnagar in Nepal; laying the foundation of Bhairahawa-Sunauli integrated check post; inauguration of Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha integrated check post; foundation of the second phase of Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline construction and the Butwal-Gorakhpur 400 KV trans-border transmission line.

The Final Location Survey report of the Raxaul-Kathmandu rail link was also handed over to the Nepali side during Prachanda’s visit.

India had also agreed to Nepal’s requests for the training and capacity building of Nepali rail officials in the Indian Railway institutes and provision of a one-time grant for maintenance of the railway infrastructure for Jayanagar-Kurtha rail section that was flagged off by the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal in April 2022.

Besides, seven agreements were signed between the two countries during the Nepal Prime Minister’s visit and these agreements included Nepal-India Transit Treaty; an MoU regarding the construction of petroleum infrastructure; an MoU relating to the Dodhara-Chandani Integrated Check Post and Dry Port; an MoU regarding Fukot-Karnali 480 MW hydropower project development; 669 MW Lower Arun Hydropower Development Project Agreement; an MoU relating to trans-national electronic payment between National Clearing House Ltd, Nepal and National Payment Company Ltd, India and MoU between Foreign Affairs Study Academy of Nepal and Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service, India.

India also decided to fund Bheri Corridor, Nijgadh-Inaruwa and Gandak-Nepalgunj transmission lines and associated sub-stations under Line of Credit of $679.8 million.

Prachanda’s visit to India was the 6th Prime Ministerial level visit from Nepal since the promulgation of the Constitution in the Himalayan country in September 2015.

In terms of quantity and quality, the visit was the most successful on several counts. First, the highest numbers of infrastructure and physical connectivity projects were remotely inaugurated by both Prime Ministers, and seven documents were exchanged on infrastructure, transit trade, digital connectivity, and energy cooperation.

Second, for the first time in the India-Nepal hydroelectricity trade, the Prime Minister of India stated that “India aims to increase the quantum of hydropower imports from Nepal to India to 10,000 MW in the next 10 years.”

Third, India agreed to facilitate the first trilateral power transaction from Nepal to Bangladesh via India for up to 40 MW of power, which was a long pending demand of these countries.

Four, the just-revised Treaty of Transit would enhance the faster, smoother, and more effective third-country trade of Nepal by access to inland waterways of India for the first time.

Fifth, India has assured to strengthen multi-sectoral connectivity projects under the ‘HIT formula’ and resolve the air-connectivity issues.

And lastly, most importantly, both leaders expressed their sincere effort toward resolving the border demarcation and border disputes through dialogue by the designated mechanisms.

Nepal, a close and friendly neighbour, is a key partner in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

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Nepal asks citizens not to join foreign armies

There were reports of Nepali nationals joining the Ukrainian army, while several others also acknowleged on social media of being recruited into the Russian military….reports Asian Lite News

Amid reports that Nepali nationals were joining the Russian Army, the government in Kathmandu has urged citizens not to join any other foreign forces than the ones with which the Himalayan nation has bilateral agreements.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that its attention had been drawn to news reports and social media posts stating that Nepali citizens have been recruited by foreign armies in war-torn nations.

There were reports of Nepali nationals joining the Ukrainian army, while several others also acknowleged on social media of being recruited into the Russian military.

The Ministry also urged its citizens not to go for security-related work in the war-torn countries on the basis of false information.

It was not immediately known how many Nepali citizens have joined either of the two armies, as well as mercenary groups. 

The Ministry also informed that the government does not have a policy to allow Nepali citizens to join foreign armies except for some friendly countries that have been recruiting  citizens into their national armies under the traditional agreement regarding recruitment.

Nepal has formal agreements with India and the UK militaries. 

The Ministry urged everyone to be aware of the risks involved in such activities and the difficulties in conducting rescue.

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Nepal’s ruling party leaders visiting Delhi on BJP invite

The visit aims to enhance party-to-party interaction and enable the delegation to understand the vision and functioning of BJP…reports Asian Lite News

A group of five leaders from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) embarked on a week-long visit to India on Sunday. As part of the “Know BJP” initiative, a five-member delegation of the CPN (Maoist Centre) is visiting India at the invitation of the Bharatiya Janata Party from July 23–28, according to BJP press release.

The team led by CPN (Maoist Centre) vice-chairman Pampha Bhusal also include Chakrapani Khanal, Rameshwor Raya Yadav, Satya Pahadi and Suresh Rai. During their visit, the leaders will participate in the program entitled “Know BJP” and attend some political engagements.

While addressing a briefing, Pampha Bhusal said, “Our visit focuses on strengthening the relation between CPN-Maoist Center and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Along with we want the relation between India and Nepal to flourish further.”

During the visit, the delegates will be meeting BJP’s National President JP Nadda and other senior leaders of the party, Vijay Chauthaiwale, In- charge, Foreign Affairs Department, BJP informed in a press release.

The visit of Nepal’s delegation includes a two-day tour to Uttarakhand. During the visit, five-member delegation of CPN (Maoist Centre) will meet Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and other BJP state functionaries, according to Vijay Chauthaiwale.

The visit aims to enhance party-to-party interaction and enable the delegation to understand the vision and functioning of BJP. It is pertinent to note here that BJP National President JP Nadda on the the 43rd Foundation Day of Bharatiya Janata Party announced the “KNOW BJP” initiative for the external outreach of the party.

“Earlier this month, BJP National President JP Nadda interacted with a group of diplomatic mission heads to India at party headquarters on Wednesday, to elaborate on the ideology and contribution of the party in nation building,” Vijay Chauthaiwale, the in-charge of Foreign Affairs Department, BJP informed in a press release about the event.

Heads of Missions to India from Bangladesh, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mozambique, South Korea, Suriname, Sweden and Tanzania were present in this interaction. The interaction is part of the ‘KNOW BJP’ Initiative launched by the National President on the 42nd foundation day of BJP.

“It was a pleasure to interact with the head of missions of different countries at the BJP HQ as part of our ‘Know BJP’ initiative. Through this initiative, we aim to share our party’s ideology and vision with a global audience and inform them about our contributions to India’s progress,” Nadda said on Twitter. (ANI)

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