India has agreed to build strategic railway link between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu in Nepal to facilitate people-to-people (P2P) contact and bulk movement of goods. The announcement was made after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli who was on three-day visit to India.
The new electrified rail line between Kathmandu and Raxaul will be financed by India. Its objective will be to expand connectivity between two neighbours and enhance P2P linkages and promote economic growth and development.
As first step towards building railway connectivity, India in consultation with Nepal will carry out preparatory survey work within one year. This will be followed by finalization of implementation and funding modalities of project based ondetailed project report.
There are three other railway projects in pipeline between both countries viz. Nautanwa-Bhairahawa, New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.
The proposal to link Raxaul to Kathamandu with railway line comes nearly two years after China in March 2016, agreed to construct strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with apparent aim of reducing landlocked Nepal’s dependence on India for transit connectivity. It also comes in backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020.
China and Nepal have recently also signed a transit treaty which also comes years after sense of mistrust that had prevailed when certain sections in Nepal blaming India for 135-day blockade that was carried out by Madheshi protesters from terai plain regions bordering India from September, 2015 to February 2016 that had crippled Nepal’s economy.