Nepal seeks Chinese grant to prepare detailed report of rail via KerungIf Nepal gets a Chinese grant, it will be easy for the government to request the Indian side for a grant as well to prepare the DPR of the Raxual-Kathmandu cross-border railway, officials said.
Nepal has sought a Chinese grant to prepare the detailed project report of the Kerung-Kathmandu cross-border railway. A request has already been sent to the Chinese side for consideration.
Officials familiar with the development told the Post that the Chinese side has not responded to the request. So things are not clear if the northern neighbour will provide grant to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) of the cross-border railway, which is one of the most ambitious projects Nepal and China have been working on. Nepal believes that completion of the link will massively enhance its connectivity with the northern neighbour, bringing an end to the landlocked country’s dependence on India for third country trade.
A bilateral meeting of railway officials from Nepal and China, which is supposed to take a decision on conducting the detailed project report of the cross-border railway, has yet to be fixed.
Two officials familiar with the negotiations with the Chinese side told the Post in interviews that they were quite convinced that China will provide a grant to prepare the DPR even if no official confirmation had been made.
If Nepal gets a Chinese grant, it will be easy for the government to request the Indian side for a grant as well to prepare the DPR of the Raxual-Kathmandu cross-border railway, officials said.
The Chinese side conducted the pre-feasibility study for the Kerung-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini rail project at their own cost.
Now there is a proposal for conducting a feasibility study of the Nepal section of the Chinese rail till Pokhara and Lumbini from Kathmandu. The Chinese side conducted the pre-feasibility study of the 121-km railway in December last year. The China First Survey and Design Institute had conducted the pre-feasibility down to Lumbini and Pokhara.
The Indian side has also completed the pre-feasibility study of the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway but they have yet to share the findings with the Nepali side. Three separate railway alignments are proposed between Raxaul and Kathmandu.
In December last year, the National Railway Authority of China handed over the pre-feasibility study report of the Kathmandu-Kerung railway to Nepali officials and agreed to prepare the detailed project report of the cross-border railway.
“We have sent a request through the Ministry of Finance to the Chinese side seeking a Chinese grant to prepare the detailed project report,” said Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.
Adhikari hinted that Nepal could request India for a grant to conduct the DPR of the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway.
During the third Nepal-China Railway Meeting held in Kathmandu in December, the two sides had agreed to hold the fourth railway meeting in China in the first quarter of 2019.
According to an estimate by the Nepali side, it will take at least two years to prepare the detailed project report of the Nepal-China railway. The DPRs of the cross-border railway projects to the north and south are expected to cost around Rs35 billion in total.
But due to the delay in the appointment of senior officials at the Chinese National Railway Authority, the Nepali side is waiting for a date to hold the meeting that could agree to conducting the detailed project report, and decide on the funding modality, and cost, among other things.
“We made the request through the Finance Ministry but have not heard from the Chinese side yet. All detailed discussions on preparing the report and funding modality will be held in the fourth meeting in China,” said Adhikari, the leader of the Nepali team.
After completing the DPR, the next step would be deciding the investment modality of the $2.75 billion Nepal-China railway, which would stretch 72.25 km down to Kathmandu.
As per the report, around 98.5 percent of the railway would either be bridges or tunnels, and construction cost would be Rs3.55 billion per kilometer.
A senior Finance Ministry official told the Post that since the matter is sent to the Chinese side and is in process, he was not allowed to disclose all the details with the media.
As per the pre-feasibility report, around 98.5 percent of the line would either be bridges or tunnels. Initially, Nepal insisted that China fund the DPR fully, but Beijing has been making a pitch for 50 percent contributions from both the countries. The pre-feasibility study describes the project as “complicated and arduous”.
The pre-feasibility report stated that engineering crew would build ramps along the northern and southern slopes leading to Lake Paiku, near Kerung, to connect tracks to the Kathmandu section.
The ramps would overcome the huge difference in elevation between the southern and northern toes of the mountains, it said.
The preliminary findings suggest that the Kathmandu section is in the “collision and splicing zone” along the Eurasian Plate, presenting six major geological problems.