Railway Service Agreement between India-Nepal to be revised‚ inked soon

खातमांडु Khatmandu:  Nepal and India have agreed to revise agreements on railway service and motor vehicle movement. On Monday, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, issuing a joint press release, directed concerned officials to revise and sign the agreements.

The revision in railway service agreement (RSA) is expected to help simplify movement of railway cargo for trade with India and third countries. While, motor vehicle agreement (MVA) will be a guiding principle to operate direct bus services between Nepal and India on designated routes and also facilitate individuals travelling to either country in their personal vehicles.

Motor vehicle movement between the two countries so far, is being allowed on the basis of understanding reached between the two governments in the 1960s. Even as the MVA for passenger vehicles was initiated in 2004, both the countries are yet to sign it.

On the final day of the two-day visit of the Indian premier to Nepal, both the governments have also directed their authorities to expedite the construction of Postal Highway Phase I and cross-border railway links at all five agreed border points. The Joint Commission Meeting of both the nations held in Kathmandu late last month had also agreed to intensify construction of Postal Highway and cross-border railway links.

Phase I of Postal Highway consists of 19 roads in Tarai districts with a total length of 606.75 km. The concerned authorities have also been directed to commence Phase II within a year. According to the press statement, India has also agreed to consider Nepal’s request for financial assistance to implement phase II.

Responding to Nepal’s call for support in construction of the Eastern section of Mid-Hill Highway, India has also agreed to consider it. The Eastern section includes 61-km Chiyobhanjyang-Ganeshchowk, 35-km Jorsal-Tamor-Sankranti, 68-km Sankranti-Myanglung, 88-km Bhojpur-Diktel, 40-km Haleshi-Hilepani and 60-km Ghurmi-Khurkot. Track opening in the eastern part of the proposed Mid-Hill highway, which connects 24 hilly districts, has already been completed.

On tourism front, India has decided to provide assistance for development of Janakpur, Baraha chhetra and Lumbini, including linking Lumbini with Buddhist circuit of India, based on specific proposals from Nepal. Buddhist circuit is a pilgrimage route which connects Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar of India and Lumbini, Nepal.

“India has assured in assisting construction of a multilane motorable bridge over Mahakali River at Mahendranagar, which will allow traffic along the East-West Highway to cross over the Mahakali River and establish a vital trade and transit linkage for far-western region of Nepal with Indian cities of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand,” states the press release. The Indian side also agreed to consider constructing motorable bridges at the border points at Jhulaghat and Darchula.