KATHMANDU, Feb 16: Nepal and India have agreed to expedite the formation of Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA) at the first ministerial-level meeting on water resources in 32 years that was held in New Delhi on Wednesday.
"We have agreed to initiate the process of PDA through a secretary-level meeting to be held soon," Energy Minister Posta Bahadur Bogati told Republica over the phone reading the 11-point joint statement issued after the meeting.
The Pancheshwar Multi Purpose Project is part of the Mahakali Treaty which was ratified by a joint sitting of parliament in 1996. The Maoists terming the treaty anti-national have been demanding that the treaty be scrapped.
Maoist Minister Bogati, who has led the Nepali delegation that also includes Irrigation Minister Mahendra Prasad Yadav, hailed the agreement reached at the meeting on various issues. Bogati had also discussed the Pancheshwar issue with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai before leaving on India visit.
The Pancheshwar Project is expected to generate 6,480 MW electricity while the water of the project can be used for irrigation on either side of the border. Both the countries have to equally share the cost and benefits of the mega-project as per the spirit of the agreement. But Nepal, which will get only around 93,000 hectares of land irrigated owing to geographical constraints, has been demanding that India, which would irrigate around 1.6 million hectare, bear a greater share of cost.
The one-day meeting attended by Minister for Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of State for Water Resources and Minister for Water Resources of Bihar state also agreed to expedite the power trade agreement between the two countries. The joint statement also mentions completion of project report of Koshi High Dam and Sunkoshi Storage Diversion by the stipulated deadline of 2013.
“Regarding the 400KV Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur Transmission Line, India said that it has completed financial arrangement on its side and has asked Nepal to do its part,” Minister Bogati revealed. The countries have also agreed to move forward on the basis of mutual consent through the Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) to address the problem of inundation by Koshi and Gandaki rivers. India has also agreed for study of another high-voltage transmission line.
“We have proposed Butwal-Gorakhpur for the second high-voltage transmission line but we may even decide on other options after a study," he added. India has also agreed to provide additional 75 MW of energy by the end of March apart from the 25 MW that Nepal has started importing this year.
"We have agreed to develop the Raxaul-Parwanipur and Duhabi-Kataiya transmission lines to ensure that another 100 MW of energy can be imported before the next dry season," he stated.