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Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/ THT

Just a little hope!

By Pushpa Raj Pradhan
The Chinese side has informed that the Kerung-Rasuwagari-Kathmandu railway line is possible but challengeable. The primary estimated cost of this project is 250 billion rupees. After the detailed project report (DPR) will be completed within two years, the actual cost will be determined.
Meanwhile, our so-called intellectuals, who are known to be sponsored by the South, have started to make a hue and cry against the proposed trans-Himalayan railway line linking China with Nepal. They are trying to prove that the cross-country railway line is not feasible for Nepal from all angles. Giving example of Sri Lanka, they are arguing that Nepal will fall into a debt-trap if such an ambitious project is taken up.
Some others predict that such a huge project should be constructed under the Chinese grant, otherwise, the project should be scrapped. Foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali, during his visit to China, had asked the Chinese government to construct the project with grant funds. This is a diplomatic message that Nepal is not interested in construction of the cross-country railway line.
These days, since his return from China, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has not talked on the construction of the Nepal-China cross-country railway line. Upon his return from Beijing, responding to questions of the journalists, he had said, “the railway line will be constructed. When he was asked who is going to invest on this project, Oli had replied, “They, who have the money, will invest in it”. Since then, Oli has remained silent. Rather, Oli is seen keen on sailing Nepali ships in Indian rivers and constructing the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway, that too under Indian investment. Yes, we know, Indians want to engage Oli in these projects at the cost of not linking Nepal with China with a railway line.
It seems, Oli is under strong pressure of Delhi for not moving forward the trade, transit and transportation agreement with China. According to sources, a Chinese delegation is arriving here in the first week of September to hold talks on the trade, transit and transportation agreement. The Nepali side has not completed the paper works to sign on the protocol for the agreement as demanded by the Chinese side. It is thus expected that the bilateral talks to be held in Kathmandu in the first week of September may not be fruitful.

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