India on Thursday pledged $1 billion in assistance to quake-ravaged Nepal for its massive reconstruction programme, asserting that it will strongly stand behind the Nepalese government which is seeking to “wipe the tears” of every Nepali.
The announcement was made by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during an international donors’ conference in Kathmandu. Swaraj hoped that a “stronger, united and more confident Nepal will rise” from the debris of destruction.
She said one fourth of the $1 billion assistance will be grant and it will be over and above India’s existing bilateral developmental assistance of another $1 billion over the next five years which takes the total assistance to $2 billion.
Swaraj conveyed India’s “deep and abiding commitment” to rebuilding of Nepal and highlighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured a prompt rescue and relief operation within six hours of the 7.9-magnitude April 25 quake.
“Today I convey to you the deep and abiding commitment of the Government and 1.25 billion people of India and the personal commitment of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you seek to wipe the tears of every Nepali,” Swaraj said.
“We reacted as if a disaster had struck India,” Swaraj said.
There has been an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy, support and solidarity with Nepal and people in India “opened their hearts” to come to the country’s assistance, she said.
The International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction has been organised by the Nepalese government to raise funds for rebuilding the country devasted by a powerful earthquake that struck exactly two months back on April 25, killing about 9,000 people and injuring around 23,000 others besides flattening over five lakh houses.
“I am happy to announce Government of India’s pledge for Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepali Rupees 10,000 crores, equivalent to one billion US dollars, one fourth of it as Grant,” Swaraj said.
“This pledge is over and above our existing bilateral developmental assistance of another one billion US dollars over the next five years, forty per cent of which would be Grant,” she said.
The conference was attended by several countries, including China, Britain, Norway, Japan, Sri Lanka, the European Union besides the UN, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
“I salute the resilience of the people of Nepal and reassure you of India’s full support. The terrible disaster and continuing aftershocks have not diminished the indomitable spirit of the Nepalese people. They are calm and dignified in their tragedy,” Swaraj said.