Indo-Nepal pipeline set to be game changer in relations
Prime Minister Narendra Modi created history today when he, along with his Nepali counterpart K P Oli, jointly inaugurated the Motihari-Amlekhganj petroleum product pipeline.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi created history today when he, along with his Nepali counterpart K P Oli, jointly inaugurated the Motihari-Amlekhganj petroleum product pipeline. This will be the first ever cross-border petroleum pipeline, not just between India and Nepal, but also in the whole of South Asia. Modi and Oli jointly inaugurated the pipeline from their offices in New Delhi and Kathmandu respectively by 'switching on' buttons brought to each of them.
The 69-km long pipeline will replace tankers that carry petroleum products by road between India and Nepal. This has been the arrangement in place since 1973.
The pipeline connects Motihari in India to Amalekhgunj in Nepal. Once functioning of the pipeline starts, the transport of fuel from Barauni refinery in Bihar’s Begusarai district to Amalekhgunj.
While briefing the media on the eve of the unveiling event, Nepal Oil corporation (NOC) spokesperson Birendra Goit said, “The pipeline will drastically reduce the cost of transporting fuel to landlocked Nepal from India. The Amalekhgunj fuel depot will have the capacity to store up to 16,000 kilolitres of petroleum products."
India has also expressed immense hope for the prospects of the new pipeline. "This India-Nepal energy cooperation project is a symbol of our close bilateral relations. It will help to enhance the energy security of the region and substantially cut down on transit costs," the government of India said in a release on the eve of the pipeline inauguration.
India’s Ambassador to Nepal, Manjeev Singh Puri, described the pipeline as a “game changer for Nepal” in a press interaction earlier.
The Motihari-Amalekhgunj pipeline project is an ambitious venture first proposed in 1996.
Although the idea was in place, implementation got stuck in red tape until recently. The project was revived after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kathmandu in 2014. Even after the high profile visit, the initiative got did not move ahead due to political tensions in India with its Himalayan neighbour. At one point, Nepal even accused India of imposing an undeclared economic blockade on trade relations between the two countries.
The project received fresh impetus when the Indian state-owned Indian Oil Corporation entered into an agreement to supply about 1.3 million tonnes of fuel annually to Nepal. The trade volume is targeted to be doubled by the year 2020.
"The project was initially estimated to cost Rs 275 crore, of which India was to bear Rs 200 crore. Subsequently, the NOC said the total project cost had escalated to almost Rs 325 crore. Commercial operation of the cross-border fuel project will bring down fuel price by at least one rupee per litre,” Nepal Oil Corporation Deputy Director Sushil Bhattarai told PTI, while detailing the project.