KATHMANDU – Multiple issues of bilateral relations and cooperation were discussed and memorandum of understandings (MoU) exchanged during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lumbini, Nepal.
At the invitation of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, paid an official visit to Lumbini on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti yesterday. Prime Minister Deuba and his spouse Arzu Rana Deuba warmly welcomed Indian Prime Minister Modi on his arrival at Lumbini helipad on Monday morning.
The Indian Prime Minister was also welcomed by Federal Ministers, Chief Minister of the Lumbini Province, Ambassador of Nepal to India and other senior officials of the government. According to a press release issued by Foreign Ministry on Monday, the Indian Prime Minister was also accompanied by a high-level delegation consisting of National Security Advisor, Foreign Secretary and other senior officials of the government of India.
The two Prime Ministers held bilateral talks in Lumbini. They recalled the fruitful discussions they had in New Delhi during the official visit of Prime Minister Deuba to India on April 1-3, 2022. During the bilateral talks, the two Prime Ministers had a broad overview of Nepal-India cooperation and matters of mutual interests with a view to further enhancing the close and cordial ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Deuba thanked Modi for India’s assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. He also expressed gratitude for India’s support in the post-earthquake reconstruction, including the heritage sites.
Moreover, the two sides discussed promoting cooperation in connectivity; early supply of fertilizers; expeditious conclusion of the revised Transit Treaty, its Protocols and Memorandum; review of the treaty of trade; additional air entry routes; hydropower generation; culture and tourism including Buddhist circuit and Ramayana circuit; education and academic collaboration; increasing the threshold of carrying Indian currency by individuals; and cooperation at regional and multilateral forums in matters of mutual interest.
Other issues featured during the discussion were infrastructure development including the dry port and integrated check posts in Chandani Dodhara as well as bridges linking Purnagiri Mai, Uttarakhand, India and Parshuram Dham in Dadeldhura, Nepal; and Jhulaghat over Mahakali river.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Deuba requested the Indian PM Modi to consider constructing Motigada-Fattepur-Rampur Road in Udaypur district of Nepal under Indian grant assistance. In the context of official inauguration and commencement of commercial operation of the Gautam Buddha International Airport, Prime Minister Deuba highlighted that the airport would further facilitate connectivity, cultural linkages, and people-to-people movements and promote cultural tourism.
He also requested the additional air entry routes from Mahendranagar, Nepalgunj and Janakpur. In response, Indian PM Modi assured that authorities concerned of India would take up the matters raised by the Prime Minister Deuba. Deuba also requested for seamless power trade on a long-term basis under mutually beneficial terms.
Both sides satisfactory on Arun III project progress
The two sides expressed satisfaction that Arun III project was progressing well and welcomed the signing and exchange of MoU between Nepal Electricity Authority and SJVN Ltd. India for the development of Arun-IV hydropower project.
The two Prime Ministers stressed the importance of hydropower for clean energy and noted that immense potentials exist for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in hydropower sector. Prime Minister Deuba invited interested companies from India such as NHPC for the development of West Seti Hydroelectricity project. The two Prime Ministers agreed to take up the Pancheswor Project with priority.
Sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar
The press release further stated that the two sides also agreed in principle to establish the sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar. The necessary process will be taken in due course through appropriate local authorities.
Earlier, the Prime Ministers of Nepal and India visited the sacred Mayadevi Temple and worshipped at the Birthplace of the Lord Gautam Buddha. The two Prime Ministers laid the foundation stone for the construction of the India International Center for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at the Lumbini Monastic Zone.
The Prime Minister of India together with the Prime Minister of Nepal attended the special ceremony organized by the Lumbini Development Trust in Lumbini International Buddhist Meditation Center and Assembly Hall in the afternoon. In their address, the two Prime Ministers highlighted the importance of Buddha’s teachings of peace, harmony, and mutual respect.
Prime Minister Deuba spoke on the eternal, archeological and historical value of Lumbini a sacred land and the fountain of Buddhism, world peace and harmony and said that the divine footprints of Lord Buddha continue to inspire our pursuit of peace and sustainable development. The text of the remarks by Prime Minister Deuba and its unofficial translation is attached.
MoU on collaboration in academic field, power sector
The two Prime Ministers also witnessed the exchange of the following Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) related to cooperation and collaboration in academic field and power sector:
i. MoU between the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS), Tribhuvan University, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on the Establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian studies;
ii. MoU between Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal, and ICCR on the establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies;
iii. MoU for Cooperation between Kathmandu University, Nepal and Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM);
iv. Letter of Agreement between Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal, and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), India (for joint degree program at Masters’ level at KU Campus.);
v. MoU between the Lumbini Buddhist University (LBU) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations on the Establishment of the Dr. Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies (ICCR Chair), and
vi. Memorandum of Understanding between Nepal Electricity Authority and SJVN Ltd for development and implementation of Arun-4 hydropower project, Nepal.
Indian PM Modi returned home in the afternoon upon successfully completing the visit to Lumbini on the pious day of Buddha Purnima. He was seen off by Prime Minister Deuba, his spouse Arzu Rana Deuba, ministers and senior officials of the government.
The official visit of Prime Minister Modi to Lumbini, Nepal has contributed in deepening the socio-cultural bonds and cooperation between Nepal and India, the press statement asserted.-RSS