Neighbourhood First: PM Modi heads to Nepal on Buddha Purnima; Connectivity, energy and trade on agenda

Visiting Nepal at the invitation of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who was here in New Delhi last month, PM Modi will also participate in a prayer at the Mayadevi Temple.

PM Modi-nepal
One of the major areas where there could be deeper cooperation is connectivity. (Image: PTI)

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Nepal on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti and will attend a special Shilanyas ceremony in Lumbini for the construction of a center for Buddhist culture and heritage. According to Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra this project is located in the west monastic zone of Lumbini and it will be developed and built by India based International Buddhist Confederation.

Visiting Nepal at the invitation of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who was here in New Delhi last month, PM Modi will also participate in a prayer at the Mayadevi Temple.

Where will the PM’s flight take off from?

 From Kushinagar in India to Lumbini in Nepal where Gautama Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana. These are two important destinations on the Buddhist circuit.

Comprehensive Agenda for Talks

Further strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries and to review the relations and ways of deepening it. This is PM Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal and first ever to Lumbini.

The talks between the two leaders will focus on expanding bilateral ties and special focus on connectivity, the entire domain of Development Partnership and hydropower, said the foreign secretary while responding to media queries.

Connectivity

One of the major areas where there could be deeper cooperation is connectivity. With better connectivity it will help in people to people connect, improve trade and economic relations. The Nepal government has requested India for improving air connectivity by giving three additional entry routes and have also sought to have an agreement with near-border operation the Gautam Buddha International Airport.

Financial Express Online had reported in April that the two leaders had virtually inaugurated the Kurtha-Jayanagar passenger railway.  This railway line financed by India is to be extended to Dhalkebar in Nepal.

Energy cooperation

According to the foreign secretary in the India-Nepal relations, hydropower energy has a very important place.  Besides making significant investments in this sector, the trade of hydropower energy between the two countries has also increased, and this includes the export of energy from Nepal.

When PM Deuba was here in April, India allowed Nepal to export around 360 MW of power to India. Both countries are engaged in continuous dialogue of this broad sector and the two leaders will talk about this again on Monday.

The two leaders already have signed a Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector cooperation in power generation, transmission and trade.  And have jointly inaugurated the 90 km long 132 KVDC Solu Corridor Transmission line and substation built under the Line of Credit which has been extended by the government of India.

The early finalisation of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project will also feature in talks. Responding to a question, foreign secretary Kwatra said that the discussions are going on and the DPR of the project is expected to be finalized soon following which things will move faster.

During his visit to India last month, PM Deuba had extended an invitation to Indian companies to participate in Nepal’s hydropower development projects.

There also has been great progress in 900 MW Arun-III hydro-electric projects in Nepal.

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