Dahal's Delhi Diplomacy: A Detailed Analysis

Dahal's Delhi Diplomacy: A Detailed Analysis
Credit goes to Kathmandu Post

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's recent visit to India was marked by a series of negotiations, agreements, and a few disappointments. This article aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the outcomes and implications of this diplomatic endeavor.

Energy and Connectivity Deals

The visit saw the signing of several vital agreements between Nepal and India, with a particular focus on energy and connectivity. Despite the initial disagreements and cold negotiations, the two sides managed to reach an understanding on long-term electricity trade. However, the final agreement is yet to be signed.

Nepal's major priorities included an additional air route for inbound flights from Mahendranagar, a 25-year agreement on electricity trade, and a final settlement on the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. The Nepali delegates stood firm on not signing the Lower Arun and Phukot Karnali hydropower projects unless India agreed on the electricity deal.

The Electricity Trade Agreement

Nepal was pushing for a 25-year umbrella trade agreement to export its electricity. The two sides reached an agreement in principle at the prime minister's level, but they are yet to sign an agreement and exchange letters towards this end. The Indian side initially resisted signing an agreement on the electricity deal but eventually reached an understanding due to Nepal's resolute stand on the Lower Arun and Phukot Karnali projects.

Indian Foreign Secretary Kwatra announced that Nepal and India agreed to increase the quantum of energy export to 10,000 MW within the next 10 years. Currently, Nepal is allowed to sell 452.6MW of electricity generated by 10 hydropower projects in the Indian power markets.

Air Route Agreement

On the air route agreement, India has agreed to allow inbound flights to use the L626 route that enters Nepal from the west over Mahendranagar, but only for aircraft flying at an altitude of 15,000 to 24,000 ft. This altitude is considered too low and uneconomical for jets.

Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project

The Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project was Nepal's third important agenda item of Dahal's India visit. India, however, reiterated the same old commitment on the project. Even after 26 years after the signing of the controversial Mahakali Treaty between the two countries, even the DPR of the project has not been prepared.

While Dahal's visit to India saw some progress in terms of energy and connectivity deals, it also highlighted the ongoing challenges in the bilateral relationship, particularly regarding the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. The outcomes of this visit underscore the complexity of Nepal-India relations and the need for continued dialogue and negotiation to address outstanding issues.