First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: Nepal and China have initiated discussions on the highly anticipated Kathmandu-Kerung inland railway project. A delegation, led by Keshav Kumar Sharma, Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, and Rohit Kumar Bisural, Director General of the Department of Railway, is currently in China to deliberate on the railway initiative.
While China is actively conducting a comprehensive feasibility study, a meeting of the Nepal-China Secretary-level Railway Mechanism was convened to assess the project’s progress. The technical team from China, which arrived on December 27, 2022, has undertaken an in-depth study in Rasuwa and Nuwakot. Subsequently, a Chinese technical team is currently in Nepal, focusing on studies in Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Kathmandu, and other pertinent areas.
Despite the ongoing study, there is no official update from the Chinese side regarding the project’s advancement. Information on the progress is anticipated to be shared during the upcoming secretary-level meeting, where Chinese officials are expected to discuss various aspects of cooperation, including land, forest considerations, and other essential details.
The Chinese technical team is projected to compile and present a detailed feasibility report over the next three and a half years. The initial schedule envisioned the completion of survey work within the first year, with subsequent mapping work finalized within the following year and a half. The goal is to conclude and submit the engineering study report within the subsequent year.
To facilitate comprehensive studies, it is contemplated that field camps will be established in the future. China is funding the study independently. According to the preliminary study report on the Kerung-Kathmandu railway presented by China on December 10, 2018, an exhaustive study is currently underway.
The memorandum of understanding for the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Kerung-Kathmandu, Kathmandu-Pokhara, and Pokhara-Lumbini railways was inked during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal in 2019. The subsequent meeting of Nepali and Chinese officials in Kathmandu in November 2019 delineated the responsibilities.
Owing to the strict measures implemented by the Chinese government to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the technical team faced delays. However, with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, progress on the project has resumed according to the action plan.
Approximately 98 percent of the project is expected to be in challenging terrain, necessitating tunnels and bridges. Consequently, the economic viability of the railway will be evaluated, and investments will be sought, ultimately establishing Nepal’s railway connectivity to Chinese ports.
Upon the completion of the study by China, an agreement between Nepal and China will be required to determine the project’s construction and investment modalities, addressing any technical complications that may arise. The subsequent decision on the project’s construction will be contingent on these agreements.
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