New bridge to connect India, Nepal to come up in Dharchula
- The Union Cabinet recently approved a plan to construct a new bridge connecting India and Nepal across the Mahakali River, connecting Dharchula in Uttarakhand with Dharchula in Nepal.
- Within three years, the bridge will be built. It will help to deepen the two countries' friendship.
- India and Nepal have a special friendship and collaboration relationship.
- The bridge's development will benefit residents of Dharchula, Uttarakhand, and Nepal's territory.
- In Uttarakhand, it is also known as the Sharda River or the Kali Ganga.
- It joins the Ghagra River, a tributary of the Ganga, in Uttar Pradesh.
- River Projesct: Tanakpur hydroelectric project, Chameliya hydroelectric project, Sharda Barrage.
India Nepal Historical Ties
- Due to centuries of physical, historical, cultural, and economic relations, Nepal is an important neighbour of India and holds a special place in its foreign policy.
- In terms of Hinduism and Buddhism, India and Nepal are comparable, with Buddha's birthplace Lumbini in modern-day Nepal.
- Not only do the two countries share an open border and unrestricted movement of people, but they also have strong relationships formed via marriages and familial ties, dubbed Roti-Beti ka Rishta.
- The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship is the cornerstone of India's special relationship with Nepal.
India Nepal economy and trade
- India is Nepal's main trading partner and source of foreign investment, as well as providing transit for nearly all of Nepal's third-country commerce.
India Nepal Connectivity
- Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded on three sides by India, with one side open to Tibet, which has limited vehicular access.
- India and Nepal have collaborated on a number of connectivity initiatives to strengthen people-to-people ties and boost economic growth and development.
- Both governments have signed memorandums of understanding for the construction of an electric rail line connecting Kathmandu and Raxaul, India.
- Within the framework of trade and transit agreements, India is looking to develop inland waterways for cargo movement, providing Nepal with additional access to the sea and termed “ it the ""Sagarmatha(Mt. Everest) with Sagar (Indian Ocean).
India Nepal Defence Cooperation
- Bilateral defence cooperation involves providing equipment and training to the Nepalese Army as part of its modernization.
- The Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army are bolstered in part by Nepalese highland areas.
- Surya Kiran, a combined military exercise between India and Nepal, has been held every year since 2011.
India Nepal Cultural Ties
- There have been initiatives to foster people-to-people relationships in the fields of art and culture, academia, and the media With various local bodies in Nepal.
- Three sister-city agreements have been struck by India: Kathmandu-Varanasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya, and Janakpur-Ayodhya.
- A sister city or twin town relationship is a legal or social arrangement between two geographically and politically separate communities.
Issues & Challenges
- Nepal was a landlocked country that relied on Indian supplies for many years, and India was involved in Nepal's affairs.
- However, Nepal has moved away from India's influence in recent years, and China has increasingly filled the void with investments, help, and loans.
- Nepal is a significant participant in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the Chinese government wants to invest in Nepal's infrastructure as part of its larger goals to enhance global trade.
- The growing cooperation between Nepal and China may jeopardise Nepal's status as a buffer state between India and China.
- China, on the other side, wants to avoid any anti-China sentiment among the Tibetans in Nepal.
- The controversy resurfaced in November 2019 when Nepal produced a new political map that claimed the Uttarakhand villages of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulekh as Nepali territory. The revised map additionally shows the area of Susta (West Champaran district, Bihar).
- Under the auspices of International Law on Trans-boundary Water Disputes, India should negotiate amicably with Nepal to resolve the boundary dispute. The resolution of the border issue between India and Bangladesh should serve as an example in this case.
- In terms of people-to-people contact, bureaucratic engagement, and political connections, India should be more proactive with Nepal.
- Simple disagreements should not escalate into conflicts, and both countries should work to address the concerns in a peaceful manner.