Nepalese PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ said in Parliament on Sunday that during his recent meetings with Chinese leaders discussions were held on construction of a transmission line in the northern border region, installation of solar power plants along the border, construction of various roads and expansion of cooperation in the health and agriculture sectors.
However, a number of Chinese projects in Nepal exist only on paper, in stark contrast to projects funded by India in the Himalayan country, where India’s grant assistance to Nepal totals around $63 billion, ET has learnt.
Prachanda visited China late last month and reportedly got assurance of funding for 12 projects, even as there has been little progress on projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Nepal, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Nepal signed the BRI agreement with China in 2017. However, the country has yet to reap the benefits of the agreement, even as some Nepalese leaders sought Chinese funds to reduce dependence on India.
China has raised the issue of delayed BRI projects with Nepalese leaders, but there is no clarity as to why the projects have been delayed, according to Nepal watchers. Some of the projects were added to the BRI at the insistence of some Nepalese leaders, they said.
In contrast, since 2018, including during the Covid-19 pandemic, India-backed projects have either been completed or are nearing completion. From border check-posts to healthcare services to road-rail links and power projects, India has launched projects across sectors in the neighbouring country.
India’s concessional line of credit to Nepal amounts to $1.65 billion for 22 projects. Besides, the High Impact Community Development Projects programme has been extended up to Rs 3.125 crore per project in critical sectors, including health, education and community infrastructure development.
The Indian funded projects that have been completed include integrated check posts at Birgunj and Biratnagar; Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum products pipeline; Terai roads project; and Jayanagar-Kurtha-BijalpuraBardibas rail link, two phases of which have been completed and work on the third phase is continuing.
Other India-backed projects in Nepal include Jogbani-Biratnagar rail link, 900 MW Arun-III Hydro Electric Project and post-earthquake reconstruction works across housing, education and cultural heritage sectors.