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Waterways: For record

This is for record. A Nepali multi-party activist of the referendum days of Nepal’s 1980s launched a quest for waterways access to the sea for Nepal. Manjur ‘World’ founded a ‘Rastrya Samaj Sudhar Sanstha’ which pioneered two sterling homegrown movements in those days of new found multi-party activism. One was for a waterway access to the sea for land-locked Nepal and the other for a work permit system protecting prior rights for Nepali citizens in what was till then a growing job market at home. The latter movement gradually dissipated on account of outright duplicity on part of the prevailing sponsored Nepali politics and perhaps explains his untimely death as an alleged alcoholic after the restoration of the multi-party system in the country in 1990. But it nevertheless helped spawn a goodwill (sadbhavana) movement that eventually emerged as a full fledged Tarai based political party in reaction to allegations that the term ‘Bharatiya-mool’ used to describe latter-day Indian immigrants used by the movement was proof of the discrimination existing against the Tarai population. The subject of Indian immigrants taking up scarce Nepali jobs was till then sensitive enough to provoke an Indian media splash on the number of Indian citizens living abroad which numbered those in Nepal as a little over a hundred thousand according to the coverage published simultaneously in most major Indian dailies two days before a talk program scheduled to be organized by his organization in which the chief address was to have been delivered by none less a Congress stalwart than Ganesh Man Singh. The recent focus on a waterway access to the sea for Nepal is being portrayed as a K.P. Oli contribution to Nepal-India relations as a result of his ‘successful’ India tour. For the record here, the demand for a waterway for Nepal was raised by Manjur World and his organization on which several deliberations and homework was done drawing attention to the river-link projects in India that found space in the Indian media as a ‘Dastur Plan’.  The Indian program linking the Sutlej and the Yamuna rivers in the north-west and joining the Yamuna to the Ganges was said to have been designed to augment the water-flow of the Ganges to levels encouraging deepwater navigation from the sea to India’s interiors contributing to the current status also of large river-going vessels brining in goods from Bengal ports all the way up to Allahbad in U.P. India’s long dispute with Bangladesh on the diversion of Brahmaputra waters to the Ganges has also the waterways as one of its purposes.
Manjur ‘World’ is long gone and so also the memories of his travails in gauging river depths across the border for a water access to Indian ports for Nepal. Manjur’s research had concluded by then that the Narayani River was immediately suitable for inland waterways. His contribution to the discovery of its possibilities is stipulated here for record since the recent splurge of official synergy on the topic of a sudden is being viewed as either Indian largesse or another of Oli’s oddities. Yes, transport by ship of goods to and from Nepal is not an impossibility and, yes, it is a Nepali right as a landlocked country. This is, if that is, it is made possible by both Nepal and India. For this, the right condition for water ways, augmented river depths and port facilities, are to be provided. One is aware that Allahbad remains still far from ocean going vehicles. This indicates that there remain shortfalls in infrastructural targets in India. Since the ‘Dastur Plan’ envisaged the use of Nepali waters in the Ganges water augmentation segment where Ganges tributaries from Nepal contribute to water levels, official Nepali talk become vital. The Nepali population already tempted by a water ways for Nepal is yet to be told publicly of any agreement between the two countries regarding water augmentation that can make it possible. For the record, again, it was the late king Birendra who drew international attention to the fact that many a south Asian rivers commonly bind the Tibetan plateau with Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh and that Chinese participation on long term programs to exploit water resources here would be highly fruitful. After all, China has not only the longest history of water projects in the world but it is also the country with the most water projects in the World.

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