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India, China Rail Projects In Nepal Highlight Geopolitical Rivalry
According to Rohit Kumar Bisural, director general of the Department of Railways, the Indian side completed the fieldwork of the final location survey of the proposed broad gauge line between Raxaul and Kathmandu
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A Chinese technical team has started a feasibility study in Nepal for the proposed Kerung-Kathmandu cross-border railway while India has completed a detailed feasibility study for the Raxaul-Kathmandu Railway project, Nepal-based The Kathmandu Post reported.
The two projects highlight the geopolitical rivalry between India and China which are competing for influence in Nepal, it said.
However, progress on the Indian project Raxaul-Kathmandu railway has been more rapid.
According to officials at the Kathmandu Department of Railways, a six-member Chinese team representing the China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group, in late December 2022, visited Nepal to carry out a detailed feasibility study of the proposed Nepal-China cross-border railway.
This was the first time that a Chinese technical team visited Nepal for a feasibility study since Covid-19 hit the world, The Kathmandu Post reported.
Quoting Aman Chitrakar, Department of Railways spokesperson, it said, "Chinese visited different sites of the proposed rail network and returned to China on Tuesday after conducting a reconnaissance survey of the railway project."
A reconnaissance survey is the first engineering survey in the previously unsurveyed territory for the purpose of project implementation. "They will probably come back after celebrating the Chinese New Year in late January," said Chitrakar.
During the survey, some key areas were observed that fall under the alignments proposed by the pre-feasibility study which was prepared in late 2018. "We can now say that the task of detailed feasibility study has moved forward," he said.
Meanwhile, progress on the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway has been more rapid than on the Kerung-Kathmandu project.
According to Rohit Kumar Bisural, director general of the Department of Railways, the Indian side completed the fieldwork of the final location survey of the proposed broad gauge line between Raxaul and Kathmandu.
Konkan Railway Corporation Limited which has been working on the survey is expected to submit the survey report in April-May this year, Bisural said.
Detailed feasibility studies are being conducted by India and China in Nepal for the cross-border railway lines with their own grants.
The process of conducting the studies for these two railway lines had moved ahead simultaneously in the last five years. When then prime minister KP Sharma Oli visited China in March 2016, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for railway connectivity, The Kathmandu Post reported.
Nepal and India signed a memorandum of understanding, in August 2018, for a preliminary engineering cum traffic survey for a rail link between Kathmandu and Raxaul. Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd was entrusted to conduct an initial survey.
Recently, it was reported that China's ambitious project in Nepal related to building a railway line in the landlocked nation has few supporters.
Although China plans to start a feasibility study for the 170 km Trans-Himalayan Tibet-Nepal railway, environmental and technical questions remain. Such concerns have been raised by Nepali experts, Eye of Nepal reported. (ANI)