Prachanda armed with new India-Nepal treaty draft

September 13th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 13 (IANS) Though Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” Saturday described his upcoming trip to India as a “goodwill” visit, yet he said he would be going to New Delhi with a draft that Nepal would like to replace the existing - and controversial - 1950 India-Nepal treaty of peace and friendship.”The treaty was signed (during) the Rana regime,” Prachanda told the state media. “But today, we have come a long way. The Ranas were overthrown and so were the Shah (kings)… In the new political context of Nepal’s transition to a federal democratic republic, it would be sensible to replace it with a new one… The objective should be to consolidate mutual welfare.”

The Maoist chief said critics who were saying his party had not done adequate homework on the new treaty were “misguided”.

“We are thoroughly prepared and have already prepared a draft which I am carrying to India,” the new Nepal prime minister said.

During his five-day visit, Prachanda would propose the formation of a special India-Nepal taskforce to finalise the draft through “mutual consultations and understanding”.

The Nepali delegation will also take up the issue of the recent Kosi devastation.

Nepal would ask for a review of the 1954 treaty as well as negotiate over relief and reconstruction measures. Nepal’s major parties have asked the prime minister to seek compensation from India since the treaty makes it India’s responsibility to maintain and repair all constructions on the river.

Prachanda has also been asked to raise the issue of the Mahakali treaty, asking for its review and the controversy about 11 embankments Nepal says India built unilaterally along the border, putting Nepali territory in jeopardy.

Trade talks are also expected to feature largely in the talks.

“Our trade deficit with India has reached NRS 105 billion,” Prachanda said. “Indirect trade deficit could be four times that.”

To correct the imbalance, Nepal would seek to simplify tax and quarantine systems as well as transit facilities. Besides Kolkata, Nepal is seeking transit facility through Mumbai port and to Radhikapur in Bangladesh.

The controversial high dam that India has been mulling to tame the Kosi would also be discussed as well as building a diversion canal.

Nepal would try to get more Indian investment in the Himalayan republic’s hydropower sector. However, the generated power would be harnessed first to meet the national demand.

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