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India urges Nepal to use $1.3 bn credit line


Elizabeth Roche, New Delhi: India on Friday expressed concern that Nepal had still to make use of the $1.35 billion line of credit extended to it in recent years, lamenting that the Himalayan country had drawn only $150 million till date.
Abhay Thakur, joint secretary in-charge of Nepal in the foreign ministry, urged Nepal to speedily ratify a bilateral investment protection pact signed in 2011 as it had assured Indian investors of political and economic stability for investments.
India also promised to expand energy cooperation with Nepal—increasing electricity exports from current levels of 250 MW to 1000 MW by the middle of next year—with the completion of an electricity transmission line between Dhalkebar in south-eastern Nepal and Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
India was also looking to complete a petroleum pipeline from Raxaul in Bihar to Amlekhganj in southeastern Nepal by mid-2016, he said.
Thakur was speaking at a conference on investment opportunities in Nepal organized by the lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), which was also attended by Nepal’s ambassador designate Deep Kumar Upadhyay.
Upadhyay is expected to present his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee next week, taking charge of a post that had been lying vacant for three-and-a-half years.
India would also be interested in upgrading airports in places such as Nijgadh in southeastern Nepal as well as expansion of the Kathmandu airport, Thakur said.
A delegation from the Airports Authority of India is expected to visit Nepal soon to take these plans forward, he said.
In his remarks, Upadhyay said the political situation in Nepal had stabilized and Indian investments were welcome in all sectors.
Nepal became a republic in 2008 after abolishing a 240-year-old monarchy but still has to formulate a constitution.
Ties between India and Nepal that had suffered neglect in recent years were on the mend with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Nepal twice last year. These visits had resulted in enhancing the climate of trust between the countries, Thakur said.
Both sides signed a power trade agreement last year that covers the terms and conditions for power purchase and sale between the two countries.
Last year, Indian and Nepali power firms signed two project development agreements for the 900 MW Arun-III hydroelectric project as well as the 900 MW Upper Karnali project with GMR Energy of India.

:: India also promised to expand energy cooperation with Nepal, increasing electricity exports from current levels of 250 MW to 1000 MW by the middle of next year. (Photo & News Source: Mint)

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