25-31 July 2014 #717

Watered down

Bikas Thapa in Annapurna Post, 18 July

WELCOME HOME: Energy Minister, Radha Gyawali (centre) at the ariport on Tuesday to receive Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who is expected to decide on pending issues like the draft framework agreement on hydropower cooperation with India.
Nepal has received from India a proposal on joint development of hydropower, the ratification of which would put Nepal’s water resources in its southern neighbour’s control. According to Clauses 3 and 3a 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 the NC 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 Ghimire, 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 Ghimire. “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 now being analysed by Ministry of Energy, but it hasn’t alerted other line ministries like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Finance Ministry about its content.

Minister 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 diplomatic channels,” she told Annapurna Post on Thursday.

Politicians and bureaucrats have been looking forward to changes in the way India perceives Nepal with Narendra Modi’s premiership. But a participant in the meeting told us: “This proposal shows that the mindset of the Indian bureaucracy towards Nepal has not changed.”

Read also:

'India open', Editorial

Double meaning

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