Completion deadline of Nepalgunj check post extended till JanuaryThe facility being built on the Indo-Nepal border will house customs and immigration under one roof to streamline trade between the two countries.
The construction of an integrated check post in Nepalgunj in western Nepal has been pushed back by a year, largely due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As of now, the project has achieved 22.2 percent physical progress.
The integrated check post being built on the Indo-Nepal border will house customs and immigration under one roof. The facility is designed to streamline trade between the two countries.
The two-year project is being implemented with a Rs3.20 billion grant from the Indian government, and is part of the initiative under which India will build a series of integrated check posts at various points on the border to systematise the movement of cross-border cargo trucks.
The contractor, Indian company Rajdeep Buildcon, has been given extra time until January 22, 2023 to complete the facility, the project said.
Bijay Keshar Khanal, engineer at the division office of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction in Nepalgunj, said the contractor could not carry out the construction work in a full-fledged manner due to the coronavirus.
“We decided to extend the completion deadline following the contractor’s request,” he said.
Construction crews are currently working on the access road and physical infrastructure.
The project will install trusses that are being made in Delhi. It will take three to four months to ship the trusses to Nepalgunj, project officials said.
In November 2020, Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and the then Minister for Urban Development Krishna Gopal Shrestha had jointly witnessed the ground-breaking ceremony of the integrated check post in Nepalgunj.
The Nepalgunj check post will have export and import cargo handling facilities such as warehousing; refrigerated cargo facilities; medical, plant and animal quarantine areas; and amenities for drivers and passengers.
The Indian portion of the check post in Rupaidiha is being built by the Land Ports Authority of India. Work started in May 2020. India is reported to be constructing 13 integrated check posts with its neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan to facilitate bilateral trade.
Nepal and India signed an agreement in 2005 for the construction of integrated check posts in Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj on the Nepali side of the border; and in Raxaul, Jogbani, Sunauli and Rupaidiha on the Indian side to ease trade and transit between the two countries.
As per the accord, the Indian government will bear all the construction costs while Nepal will provide the land required for the check posts.
For the Nepalgunj check post, the Nepal government has acquired 90 bighas of land in Jayeshpur. This site was chosen for the project as it is the closest to the Indian capital Delhi, which is expected to make imports into Nepal easier.
The construction of the facility will also facilitate the export of Nepali herbs and products to India.
The Indian government has also acquired land on its territory and constructed a wall.
According to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction division office, the Nepali side has completed the construction of the access road.
As per the agreement, Nepal needs to build a 2.7-km access road from the project construction site to Chaulika in Nepalgunj.
Currently, most border points between Nepal and India have customs related offices located at different locations. This results in traders facing difficulties in getting the necessary paperwork in a timely manner.
Traders on both sides of the Nepalgunj border believe that various goods could be imported and exported at a lower cost due to reduced transportation expenses once the integrated check posts are set up.
Nepali traders expect that it would be easy to export herbs and other produce to Indian markets. Residents in Nepalgunj expect that construction of the facility would bolster economic activities and employment opportunities in the area.
Once the facility comes into operation, modern cargo shipping facilities would be introduced and the railroad would be connected up to the integrated check post.
Nepalgunj is the fifth largest trading point of Nepal.
In the last fiscal year, imports from the Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha border point amounted to Rs68.94 billion while exports amounted to Rs2.24 billion, according to the Customs Department.
More than 60 percent of Nepal’s foreign trade worth Rs1.68 trillion is conducted with India.
Imports from India to Nepal stood at Rs971.60 billion in the last fiscal year 2020-21 while exports were valued at Rs103.37 billion, according to the department.