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India opens new trade route to help Nepal get fertiliser from Bangladesh

India opens up route for fertiliser supply to Nepal from Bangladesh

In what could prove to be a big relief for Nepal, New Delhi has decided to open transit facility through Indian territory for fertiliser trade between Dhaka and Kathmandu.

According to All India Radio’s news division, at present, 27,000 metric ton of fertiliser will be exported to Nepal through the Rohanpur-Singhabad rail transit route. Another lot of 25,000 metric tonne of fertiliser is likely to be exported subsequently, it said.

A report carried earlier by The Kathmandu Post noted that fertiliser shortage is a perennial problem in Nepal. It added that “despite tall promises the Oli administration has miserably failed in ensuring the timely supply of fertilisers.”

Adequate supply of fertiliser would be critical for Nepal’s agriculture sector. The agriculture sector, much like in India, plays a critical role in the overall economic growth story of the Himalayan country.

A source said that India will look at all feasible options to boost regional trade and connectivity.

The complex mechanisms in place for movement of goods at the integrated check posts (ICPs) could also be looked at.

“We are looking to boost ties with Nepal. Deepening of ties will benefit both countries, we have a lot in common with Nepal especially when it comes to culture and business,” Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP’s national spokesperson said.

Kathmandu’s long pending demand has been to set up a freight corridor through India that connects Nepal and Bangladesh and also gives the land-locked Himalayan country access to a sea port.

“Two aspects are important. First, building of mini hydropower projects must be taken up, much like what India has with Bhutan. This will increase power supply to India. Second, is the construction of a dedicated freight corridor, which has been one of the major demands of the Kathmandu administration,” Agarwal pointed out.

Sources said that the Narendra Modi government is also looking to push the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative, to boost connectivity in the region, which in turn will expand trade among the countries. The BBIN initiative has the support of all the member countries, one of the sources said.

“India wants peace in the region, as do other countries. Modi government is keen to boost greater cooperation between the countries in this region. The Centre has already underlined the need to focus on neighbours’ first policy to build a relationship which is fruitful for the entire region,” a source said.

India-Nepal relations

A study by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said that the primary way to reset relations between India and Nepal is by increasing inter-dependence. While Nepal is more dependent on India, “it is all the more necessary to balance such relations.” “To increase India’s dependence on Nepal, it is necessary to place the increase in trade and economic activities at the forefront. Interdependence between Nepal and India is the secret to reset the relations between the neighbours,” the study said.

Notably, along with several other countries, Nepal received one million Covid 19 vaccines from India under the grant assistance, despite the increase in trust deficit between the two countries.