Seminar Explores How Inland Waterways can be a Boon to India-Nepal Connectivity
1 October 2018
A seminar organized by the Embassy of India in Kathmandu and the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs explored how inland waterways between Nepal and India could benefit the Himalayan nation. Held on 1 October 2018, the “Cross-border Inland Waterways: Exploring New Avenues of Connectivity” seminar invited speakers including Mr. Barsha Man Pun, Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation, Government of Nepal and Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, Ambassador of India to Nepal.
In his address, Mr. Pun remarked on the landmark decision to connect the inland waterways of India and Nepal. Emphasizing on its potential impact, he said inland waterway connectivity is a cost-effective, safe, and environment-friendly transport option that could shape the future of trade, tourism, and navigation between the two countries. Convergence of Nepal's rivers to the Ganges will give Nepal access to the sea. Access to India's Haldia port may also open the market to Nepal’s less marketed commodities.
The Government of Nepal is taking the necessary steps to launch the initiative as early as possible. It granted waterway access to its Narayani, Koshi, and Karnali river systems, according to Mr. Pun. Reporting on updates in bilateral cooperation, he noted that India and Nepal have established bilateral mechanism needed to develop the modality of cooperation and carry out the techno-economic feasibility for inland waterways connectivity. The bilateral mechanism will suggest the technical, institutional, and legal framework required for the inland waterway connectivity and development in Nepal.
Mr. Puri, on the other hand, underlined how cross-border inland waterways would offer a win-win solution to both countries. He also highlighted needed amendments to the bilateral Trade and Transit Protocol, which will allow Nepal to move cargo through inland container vessels. He shared information of joint scoping missions undertaken by the two countries in India's soon-to-be-launched inland terminals and the upcoming scoping mission to be done on the borders of Nepal, focusing on Koshi and Gandak rivers
Other seminar speakers included Mr. Dipak Gyawali, former Minister of Water Resource, Government of Nepal; Mr. Madhav Belbase, Joint Secretary, Water and Energy Commission Secretariat; Mr. Saurya SJB Rana, President, Nepal-India Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Uttam Sinha, Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; and Ms. Dikshya Singh, Research Officer, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics, and Environment.