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Friday, July 18th, 2014
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Bikas Thapa, Annapurna Post, 18 July

Nepal has received from India a proposal themed on ‘Power Development’, the ratification of which would put Nepal’s water resources in its southern neighbour’s control.

According to points III and IIIa of the new proposal, only companies okayed by India would get to invest in hydro projects, Nepal itself would only be permitted to invest in partnership with India, and third-country investment would be disallowed.

Last week, energy Minister Radha Gyawali called water resource experts and former water and energy ministers to discuss the possible effects of this proposal on Nepal. Former Water Resource Minister Laxman Prasad Ghimire of Nepali Congress, one of the participants at the presentation, told her India’s proposal was an insult to Nepal.

In 2010, Nepal had sent India a proposal titled ‘Cross-border Interconnection for Electric Power Trade’, which sought to define the ways in which Nepal and India might trade power generated from hydroelectric projects developed by various investors in Nepal.

Succeeding governments have since been waiting for a reply. But according to former Minister for Water Resources, India’s late and unprecedented ‘reply’ is a disguised attempt to capture Nepal’s resources.

“For starters, they haven’t even acknowledged the fact that our government sent them an official proposal,” said Gyawali. “Their own proposal completely ignores the principles and possibilities of mutual benefits. Instead, they are trying to do to us what they’ve done in Bhutan.”

The controversial document is being seriously investigated into by the Ministry of Energy. But it hasn’t alerted other ministries nor has it made the proposal public. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also oblivious. At the meeting with experts, only points III and IIIa were discussed.

Minister Radha Gyawali says budget preparations, UML general convention, and the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s treatment have distracted discussion and decision on the subject. But she refused to make the contents of the document public.

“All decisions will be taken through diplomacy,” she told Annapurna Post on Thursday.

Politicians and bureaucrats have been looking forward to what changes Narendra Modi’s premiership will have in the way Nepal is treated by India. But a participant in the meeting told us on the condition of anonymity: “This proposal shows that India bureaucracy has remained the same despite Modi’s victory and Nepal’s interests will continue to be hampered.”

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