India-Nepal begin construction of third integrated checkpoint to boost trade
India and Nepal began construction of a Rs 147.12 million Integrated Checkpoint (ICP) in Nepalgunj on Thursday to streamline and boost cross-border trade, weeks before Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla’s visit to Kathmandu, to boost bilateral relations.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Nepalese Urban Development Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of the ICP, which will smooth the cross-border movement of cargo trucks by bringing together the facilities of customs and immigration under one roof.
This will be the third ICP on the India-Nepal border and similar facilities were put into operation in Birgunj and Biratnagar in April 2018 and January 2020. India has also built ICPs on the borders with neighbors such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Goyal announced that the Indian government will undertake the construction of a fourth PCI at Bhairahawa in Nepal with Indian funding. The modalities for this project and the executing agency are under consideration, he said.
The ICP in Nepalgunj will have export and import cargo handling facilities such as warehousing, refrigerated cargo facilities, medical areas, plant and animal quarantine, and services for drivers and passengers. It will also have extensive security systems, including CCTV cameras, 24-hour power backup, and sewage treatment facilities.
“The facility is envisioned to promote a systematic approach to cargo handling and thus will result in time savings and inconvenience for visitors and reduce overall transaction costs for cross-border trade,” said the Indian embassy. in Kathmandu in a statement.
The part of the ICP on the Nepalese side will be built on 61.5 hectares by a Pune-based company under the supervision of the state-owned RITES International Ltd. The construction period is two years.
A part of the Indian side is being built in Rupaidiha by Lands Ports Authority of India and work started in May. More than 10% of construction has been completed.
During the construction period, the Nepalgunj project is expected to create local employment and boost the economy through the supply of raw materials and items from the Nepalese markets.
The creation of advanced cross-border infrastructure and logistics facilities in the past three years has boosted mutually beneficial connectivity and trade and people-to-people ties, the Indian embassy said.
Shringla is expected to visit Nepal from November 26 to 27, shortly after a two-day trip to Kathmandu last week by the chief of the Indian army, General MM Naravane, to boost ties that were rocked by a border row earlier. of this year. .
Both countries had been working behind the scenes to re-stabilize the bilateral relationship in the context of the border confrontation between India and China in the Ladakh sector.
Ties between India and Nepal were affected in May after Defense Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a key border road into the Lipulekh region claimed by Nepal. Kathmandu responded by issuing a new map showing Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura, all controlled by India, as part of Nepalese territory. This exacerbated the border line.
This will be Shringla’s fifth overseas visit after pandemic-related travel restrictions. He visited the Maldives this week and also traveled to Bangladesh and Myanmar in the neighborhood.