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India and Nepal sign historic 10,000 MW power export deal

Representational image. Credit: Canva

In a significant development, India and Nepal have officially sealed an agreement for the export of 10,000 megawatts of electricity from Nepal to India over the next decade. The announcement, made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to India in June, has materialized seven months later with the signing of the long-term power trade agreement. The formal signing took place during the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to the Nepali capital.

The agreement, a key facet of the five pacts signed, was inked by Gopal Sigdel, Nepal’s secretary at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, and Pankaj Agarwal, India’s power secretary. The signing ceremony, attended by both foreign ministers, also saw the inauguration of three cross-border power transmission lines. However, the move has not been without controversy, as a group of Nepali civil society activists, including former bureaucrats, expressed concerns over the decision to allocate 10,000 MW of Nepal’s hydroelectricity to the Indian market. They argued that such decisions, impacting Nepal’s water resources and flexibility, should be subject to broad national discussion and parliamentary oversight.

Moreover, the activists criticized the perceived lack of transparency in the agreements, claiming that they undermine Nepal’s independence and sovereignty. Specifically, they raised objections to the Nepali government’s approval of grants of up to NPR 20 crore for high-impact community development projects outside the regular budgetary processes, which they believe will have significant implications for the country’s political landscape.

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