Nepal, India start petroleum pipeline talks
Nepal and India formally began talks on petroleum pipeline project.
The much-hyped 41-km Amlekhgunj-Raxaul petrol pipeline got attention again after the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – during his visit to Kathmandu on August 3-4 – pledged to expedite the project.
The two-decade long proposed dream project that is expected to help reduce leakage, make supply cheaper and provide relief to Nepali consumers from frequent shortages caused by strikes, has been shelved several times.
A 12-member high-level Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) delegation that arrived to Nepal yesterday evening for the talks had held talks today in Amlekhgunj with Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) officials on probable routes of the proposed pipeline. Of the proposed 41-km pipeline, some 39-km is on the Nepali side of the border, whereas the remaining is in Indian side.
According to chief of NOC’s Amlekhgunj depot Bhanu Khanal, they discussed on two alternative routes – right alignment of the Birgunj-Amlekhgunj road and railway corridor linking Amlekhgunj with India’s Raxaul through Birgunj. The corridor has so far remained unused.
Likewise, we also discussed on compensation to land, linking the pipeline with the proposed second international airport in Nijgadh, the number of trees that need to be chopped and an alternative proposed pipeline route, if it comes under the Simara Airport, he said, claiming that they are working hard on the proposed project as it is a must for Nepal.
The Indian government has asked IOC to submit a preliminary report by August 24.
Earlier, detailed project study of the IOC had suggested NOC to lay the pipeline 1.5-m below the ground making it easier for Nepal. NOC need not have to purchase the land instead it needs to take only permission and compensate the land owners.
Land owners can till their land and farm but they cannot develop permanent constructions within five meters on the either side of the pipeline.
Earlier, NOC and IOC had planned to implement the project under a joint venture but the idea could not interest either side in the long run. They agreed to work on separate ownership-joint operation model, in 2011.
In 1995, the petroleum pipeline project was proposed by IOC. But it has been only in papers till today.