Surkhet, Oct 7: Karnali should be given top priority in the bilateral understandings to be reached between Nepal and China during the upcoming Nepal visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Karnali state government says.
The state government has already started a high-level lobbying towards that end. As it believes, the state which shares its border only with the northern neighbour China should be entitled more benefits from (possible) bilateral understandings.
It has proposed before the Federal Government to incorporate the ‘Surkhet- Hilsa Fast Track’ project if the situation is created to give priority issues concerning the development projects during the visit. The Karnali government wishes to take the ‘ Surkhet-Hilsa Fast Track’ ahead as its lifeline project. It has already drawn the attention of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and Minister for Infrastructure Raghubir Mahaseth to the issue when a schedule for Xi’s Nepal visit is approaching.
State government economic affairs and planning minister, Prakash Jwala said the Federal Government had been requested to incorporate the ‘Surkhet-Hilsa’ project and Phukot Karnali Hydroelectricity Project in the visit agenda.
According to him, there is no alternative for the state to ensuring its accessible road connectivity to the northern neighbour to pursue development. “We have called for giving top priority to the road project which connects Surkhet, the state capital, with Hilsa, the northern border point in Humla.”
It may be noted that the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CRECG), the Chinese state-owned company, has already completed a detailed feasibility study of the project by taking 10 months and the report has been already submitted to the state government. The study suggests that it will take at least six years and cost Rs 64 billion to implement the 403 kilometers project.
Karnali state assembly member Dharmaraj Regmi said the identity of Chinese President was not limited just as the leader of China only, he was the world’s leading figure instead, and his visit to Nepal would keep a meaning. “This is not regular and diplomatic meet, the Head of the State of world’s emerging economy is arriving Nepal and many issues concerning investment may come up for discussions during the meeting,” he said, adding “China wants to connect its neighbour Nepal with its development and technology.”
Regmi who had participated in multiple meetings with the Chinese officials in regard with the ‘Surkhet-Hilsa’ project expressed hope the Karnali’s expectation could be met as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, during his first visit to China, had given priority to the issue. He said he always found the Chinese side positive towards expansion and operation of its border points with the Karnali which has kept its resolution to take ahead since its first policies and programmes.
On the eve of the inauguration of the Rara Karnali Tourism Year on April 14, 2018, the Karnali cabinet meeting held in Rara had sought investment for the project.
China had agreed to assist for a feasibility study of Karnali Economic Corridor during Prime Minister Oli’s China visit in June 2018. Same year, during the Karnali state chief minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi’s China visit, a preliminary understanding in regard with the fast track was signed with a Chinese government team.
The Karnali government has a high hope that the project would get priority in the agenda of Chinese President Xi’s Nepal visit.