India-Nepal rail, road projects: Here’s everything you need to know

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The government of India has approved Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana with a financial outlay of Rs 5.35 lakh crore to develop 24,800 Km highways along with 10,000 km residual NHDP stretches over a period of five years. In Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, development of border and international connectivity roads for a length of 2,000 km has also been envisaged with an outlay of Rs 25,000 crore.

Aside from the proposed railway line between India and Nepal, the government has also approved highway construction along the Indo-Nepal border. The Piprakothi-Motihari-Raxaul highway project on NH-28A of about 69 km length will be constructed at a civil cost of approximately Rs 334 crore which was awarded in December last year. The project commenced in February 2019 and is scheduled to be completed within the next 12 months.

It may be noted that with the objective of expanding connectivity to enhance people-to-people linkages and promote economic growth and development, both Nepal and Indian Prime Ministers agreed to construct a new electrified rail line connecting the border city of Raxaul in India to Kathmandu in Nepal. Another railway line linking Barhni, UP with Kathmandu, Nepal was also proposed.

The Modi government is looking to expedite the proposed railway project. It is awaiting Nepal’s concurrence for the inter-governmental agreement as of now. Recently, Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi mentioned in Lok Sabha that the Ministry of External Affairs is following up with Nepal and is looking to expedite the process for the railway project. The minister further stated that the survey has been completed for the five kilometres of the line in the Indian territory.

As a first step, it was agreed that Indian government will, in consultation with the Nepal government carry out preparatory survey work within one year, and the two sides would finalize the implementation and funding modalities of the project based on the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The Prime Minister of Nepal assured that their government will extend full cooperation for early completion of the requisite surveys for the new rail line.

The survey for new broad gauge line from Barhni to Kathmandu was sanctioned in 2015-16. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal recently informed that the work on the proposed railway project can be started only after the inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed. However, for this, the concurrence of the Nepal government is required. In September 2016, a draft MoU was shared by the Modi government regarding an engineering-cum-traffic survey of the proposed line. However, to date, no response has been received from the Nepal government on this proposal.

SOURCE-ET NEWS