Nepal and India ready to complete two cross-border rail lines

Kathmandu, 10 July : Nepal and India have agreed to resolve all outstanding issues for completing a railway line from Jayanagar to Janakpur-Kurtha and another one from Jogbani to Biratnagar Customs Yard by October.

The two sides agreed to put in concerted efforts to resolve issues such as land acquisition and removal of electricity poles along the proposed railway lines, during the sixth Project Steering Meeting on India-Nepal Cross Border Rail Link held in Kathmandu.

Department of Railway spokesman Prakash Bhakta Upadhyay said some problems including acquisition of land and removal of physical structures along the proposed railway lines have been identified to expedite the construction. “We have assured the Indian side on completing those tasks as early as possible,” he said.

Construction work on the 69-km broad gauge rail link between Jayanagar (Bihar, India) and Bardibas (Mahottari, Nepal) and the 14-km Jogbani-Biratnagar link is currently underway with Indian assistance.

An agreement between Nepal and India to construct a Jayanagar-Bardibas railway line was reached during the visit of then president Dr Ram Baran Yadav to India in 2010. As per the agreement, the Indian government is investing at least IRs 5.5 billion on the construction.

The Nepali side said it will acquire the land needed and remove the physical infrastructure along the proposed railway lines soon.

The Indian government has also begun homework on expanding the railway network to Nepal from three other points, including from Nautanawa to Bhairahawa (15.3 km), Rupaidiya to Nepalgunj (12.11 km) and Jalpaiguri to Kakarbhitta (70 km), as per the agreement reached between the two countries eight years ago.

According to the Indian embassy, the 6th Project Steering Committee meeting on India-Nepal Cross Border Rail Link has agreed to take forward the work on the remaining stretches of the two railway projects on priority basis. The Indian side has sought necessary cooperation from Nepal to complete the projects by October.

Joint secretary at India’s Ministry of External Affairs Namgya Khampa led the Indian delegation, while joint secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructures and Transport Keshab Kumar Sharma led the Nepali delegation during the meeting.

The meeting appreciated the work undertaken under the Final Location Survey (FLS) for the remaining three railway links, namely New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta, Nautanwa-Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj Road –Nepalgunj, to be implemented under the second phase.

Construction of these railway links is expected to enhance people-to-people linkages between the two countries and promote economic growth and development in the region, it is stated.

According to members of the Nepali delegation, the meeting also discussed ensuring early finalization of the MoU for Preliminary Engineering cum Traffic Survey for the Raxaul-Kathmandu rail line.

During the recent visit of Prime Minister KP Oli to India, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that an Indian railway line would connect to Kathmandu as part of his government’s effort to push a New Delhi-led connectivity project.

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