India comes to rescue of scarcity-hit Nepal

September 17th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) With Nepal reeling under a crippling shortage of essential commodities, India has decided to scrap the ban on exporting rice, wheat, maize, and sugar besides agreeing to ensure petroleum supplies to the neighbouring country for the next three months. “The government of India will also provide a credit of up to Rs.150 crore (about $32.5 million) to the government of Nepal for the next three months to ensure uninterrupted supplies of petroleum products to Nepal,” said a joint statement at the end of Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s Delhi leg of five-day visit to India.

Removing the ban on exports of food grains is part of India’s larger objective of spurring the democratic and economic transformation of Nepal.

Prachanda met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a wide spectrum of Indian political leadership cutting across party lines over the last two days.

Prachanda, who arrived here Sunday on his first official visit to India, left for Bangalore Wednesday morning where he is expected to visit the premises of Infosys, India’s marquee IT company.

The statement also records the decision of the two countries to “review, adjust and update the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship and other agreements, while retaining special features of the bilateral relationship”.

A joint panel headed by foreign secretaries of the two countries will be set up soon for reviewing the all-encompassing 58-year-old pact in the light of historical changes in Nepal over the last two years that saw the end of monarchy and the installation of a democratic Maoist-led regime in Kathmandu.

Commerce secretaries of both countries will meet next month to initiate a comprehensive review of the existing trade and transit arrangements that will put the rejuvenation of economic ties at the heart of a modified relationship between the two countries.

Besides activating a slew of bilateral mechanisms, the two countries will actively collaborate on mega projects, including infrastructure development such as road, rail and hydel-power projects and focus on preventive measures to prevent floods that wreak havoc in both countries.

India will set up a camp office in Nepal’s Biratnagar to facilitate movement of Nepali vehicular traffic through Bihar for improved access to other parts of Nepal till the East-West Highway, damaged by floods, is repaired.

The two nations have also decided to set up a three-tier mechanism at the level of ministerial, secretary and technical levels to deal with issues relating to hydro-power generation, irrigation, flood control and other water related cooperation.

Water resources secretaries of the two countries are expected to meet in a fortnight to discuss these issues.

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