India, Nepal ink MoU for survey of key rail link
The MoU for preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of a broad gauge line between Raxaul and Kathmandu was signed on the margins of Bimstec Summit in Kathmandu by Indian ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri and secretary of Nepal’s physical infrastructure and transportation ministry, Madhusudan Adhikari.
India and Nepal on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to conduct a survey for the Raxaul-Kathmandu rail link, the first step in an ambitious rail connectivity project announced in April.
The MoU for a preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of a broad gauge line between the two cities was signed on the margins of the Bimstec Summit in Kathmandu by Indian ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri and the secretary of Nepal’s physical infrastructure and transportation ministry, Madhusudan Adhikari.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli were present at the signing ceremony. This was Modi’s fourth visit to Nepal and his third meeting with Oli. “Our deliberations were wide-ranging, covering multiple aspects of India-Nepal relations,” Modi said after meeting Oli.
The MoU came a week after Nepal and China agreed to prepare a detailed project report for a rail link between Kerung in Tibet and Kathmandu. India has been racing to match China’s plans to improve road and rail connectivity with Nepal. The Indian link is scheduled to be completed in five years, while the Chinese line is expected to take up to nine years.
Konkan Railway Corporation will conduct the survey for the electrified railway line in consultation with the Nepal government, the Indian embassy said in a statement. The Raxaul-Kathmandu line is expected to expand connectivity by enhancing people-to-people links between the two sides and promoting economic growth and development, it added.
During Oli’s visit to India in April, India and Nepal had issued a joint statement on expanding rail links, including a line connecting Raxaul to Kathmandu.
According to the Indian embassy’s statement, it had been agreed that India would carry out the preparatory survey work within a year, and the two sides would finalise the implementation and funding modalities for the project based on the detailed project report.
Modi and Oli inaugurated a 400-bed Nepal-Bharat Maitri Pashupati Dharamshala — a rest house for pilgrims — in Kathmandu. The project at the Pashupati Temple Area Complex, on the banks of the Bagmati river, was constructed on 10,625 sq m of land owned by the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) with a grant of Nepalese Rs 220 million (approx Rs 14 crore) from India.
The rest house has three storeys and is equipped with modern amenities. Work on the project began in September 2016 and it was handed over on Friday by the Indian government to PADT, which will be responsible for managing the facility.