PM inaugurates bus service to Kathmandu; signs 10 agreements with Nepal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signed more than 10 agreements with Nepal, which include a Delhi-Kathmandu bus service, which the Prime Minister personally flagged off.

At the same time, the Prime Minister who signaled India's readiness to walk the extra mile for its neighbours, was firm in his position that SAARC’s failure to move to the next level would not be India’s responsibility.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, 'We are moving with our neighbours on connectivity, power etc'. 'The Prime Minister presided over a large number of agreements with Nepal, and we have concluded similar agreements with other neighbours. Our commitment to regional integration is for all to see.' India is keen on similar agreements through SAARC, but Pakistan’s recalcitrance is likely to stymie all such efforts.

Prime Minister Modi has pushed Nepal to draft an inclusive Constitution. 'I request all political stakeholders to draft the Constitution by early next year as committed through consensus, which will reflect aspirations of all communities, including Madhesis, Pahadis and Maoists ... failing to do so can cause difficulties to Nepal and your difficulty despite our expertise to help you in this field is a matter of sadness,' Modi said.

A number of strategic issues, including defence and security, were discussed during the talks between Modi and Nepalese Prime Minister Koirala over nearly 40 minutes. Talking about bilateral ties, Modi said, 'When we trust each other, we can move forward very quickly.'

'Projects that have been in limbo for 25 years are moving forward. I feel very satisfied,' he said after inaugurating a trauma centre built by India at Kathmandu's Bir Hospital.

The new India-Nepal motor vehicle agreement envisages regular bus services between the two countries, including allowing private vehicles to cross the border, facilitating hassle-free movement of people and promote tourism. It remains unclear whether a similar SAARC agreement would be cleared.

The bus services between the two countries will work on three routes: Kathmandu-New Delhi, Kathmandu-Varanasi and Pokhara-New Delhi.

The two countries finalized the $1 billion line of credit announced during the PM's visit to Kathmandu in August. This will be utilized for hydropower, irrigation and infrastructural development projects. Officials said the LoC will be at a concessional rate of interest of 1% and will, in case of civil works, allow JVs and reduced Indian content requirement of 50%.

India will also help to build a police training academy in Nepal to train over 400 police officers annually. Currently, India trains 350 Nepali police officers every year.

The Prime Minister also gifted a sapling from the Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya to be planted near the Ashoka Pillar at the Maya Devi Temple complex at Lumbini. Indians travelling to Nepal will now be able to use Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and 1000 denominations. At present, only Rs 100 denomination notes are allowed for Indian visitors, causing hardships to both tourists and those wanting to remit money.

 Courtesy Niti Central


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