Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"Flood-control, irrigation, hydropower"

Does the Indian government have any long term plans to deal with the Kosi problem?
We are in touch with the government of Nepal on the Kosi. I will have a one to one meeting with Nepal's water resources minister during Prime Minister Prachanda's visit. We are pretty conscious of our duty and we have to correct the situation. It is not that the neglect is inbuilt into the system. Things were very bad in Nepal, we have a treaty with the country and there is no violation of the treaty. We have been waiting for the proper opportunity to settle and sort things out.

But the central government of India and the Bihar state government are engaged in a blame game.
It's not a blame game. The MP of that area, Mrs Ranjan got conscious of this thing. I told her these things are not supposed to be discussed over the phone. I asked her to give me something in writing, and it was at that moment I wrote a letter to the Bihar chief minister Nitesh Kumar. So instead of the chief minister alerting me, I was doing the work for him. Sometimes it happens because state governments hands are full and floods come all of a sudden. Water is a state subject, it's not that I can go and interfere and take decisions in Bihar.

Does the Indian central government think that Nepal did not cooperate to prevent this disaster?
No, I would not say that. See, Nepal's prime minister is coming. They are very serious about holding talks on Kosi with us. We have a comfortable relation, there is no worry and we shall sort out things. It's a situation that can be dealt with after the monsoon recedes. In the short term we have done whatever we can. The Ganga Commission's chairman and his team is closely in touch with the Bihar government.

There have been reports that Bihar authorities have recommended the central government to push for high dams in Nepal as long-term measure.
High dams, embankments? there will be a review of the whole thing except the treaty. The treaty is in shape. But on the things that need to be done on the Nepal side and our side, we shall give our minute attention. It has to be tackled in a big way now.

You think the Kosi treaty need not be reviewed, but Nepali leaders are saying otherwise.
No, no, Nepal is an independent country. I don't think that treaty needs a fundamental review. But we will have good exchange of ideas. We are not worried about the issues they would raise. We shall settle them in a cordial manner.

There is a deep running suspicion among many Nepalis when it comes to India's interest in Nepal's water resources. Do you have any plan to allay that?
There were certain situations with the earlier government, largely they were one sided. We had a treaty and we wanted to have a good relation with Nepal all the time but it had a different kind of rule. Now there is a democratic process, it's not only the prime minister or water resources minister, there are so many actors in the field. Some of them have extreme opinions others are moderate. But broadly everybody is for good discussion on this issue.

But what are your priority projects now?
Those are matters of detail. There is tremendous advantage to both countries through hydropower generation, irrigation and flood management. We are ready to discuss those aspects, there is no worry. We have already taken decisions and we have to implement them honestly.

What decisions have already been taken?
Kosi is in focus this time in particular. Let's see what Nepal wants to discuss with us, I am prepared for that. Our chart of activities is well drawn, there is no difficulty.

What is India's main interest in Nepal's water resources?
Our main interest is flood control and irrigation. Those are our first and second priority. If we get hydroelectricity as a by product, it will be a bonus for us.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)