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India, Nepal to amend trade treaty

India, Nepal to amend trade treaty

The Indo-Nepal Treaty of Trade and Transit will be amended soon to include waterways as a mode of cargo transport to enhance connectivity between the two countries.

According to Pravir Pandey, Chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India, currently the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1991 only allows movement of cargo by road and rail between the two countries.

Need for amendment
“We are working on enhancing the waterway connectivity between India and Nepal. Currently, the cargo that comes to Kolkata or Vizag has to go by road or rail to Nepal. This is because the trade treaty recognises only these two modes of transport. The clause is being amended to include waterways,” Pandey told newspersons on the sidelines of the Inland Waterways Summit organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here on Friday.

The Commerce ministries of India and Nepal have taken the lead in bringing in the amendment. “A couple of meetings have already been held and they have drafted the amended clause. It will see the light of the day very soon,” Pandey said.

Routes identified
A high-level delegation of officials from Customs, and Commerce and External Affairs ministries visited Nepal in April to discuss the routes that can be taken for transit of cargo using waterways.

The routes identified are Kolkata-Sahebganj by waterway and then to Nepal’s Biratnagar by road; Kolkata-Kalughat near Patna by waterway and then to Birgunj by road; and Kolkata-Varanasi by waterway and then to either Nepalganj or Mahendra Nagar by road. “Three water routes have been accepted by both the countries. There is in-principle approval of all these agencies of India and Nepal on the three routes,” he said.

These apart, the Nepal government has requested India to explore whether the Gondak river could be used as a waterway right up to the border of these two countries. However, this will call for technical studies to understand if ships of larger size can move through Gondak up to Nepal, Pandey said.