Kathmandu: Senior officials from Nepal and India have reached a seven-point understanding on issues related to water resources.
The understanding was reached here on Friday during the ninth meeting of the Joint Committee on Water Resources, co-chaired by Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India; and Sagar Rai, Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation.
The meeting decided to extend the term and mandate of an expert group formed to prepare the detailed project report of Pancheshwar Development Authority (PDA).
Pancheshwar is part of the Mahakali Treaty signed between Nepal and India in 1996 that was expected to produce 6,000 megawatts of energy and would irrigate thousands of lands between the two nations but has been failing to go for execution due to several differences between the two sides.
The formation of the PDA is essential to produce the power from the project that has been in limbo for decades.
The meeting also recalled the India-Nepal Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector Cooperation issued during the visit of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to India in April 2022, where the two premiers directed their concerned officials to expedite the bilateral discussions towards early finalization of the project’s DPR, the JCWR extended the tenure of the Team of Experts (ToE) unto March 2023 for the finalization of the DPR of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project and agreed to hold the 4th ToE meeting at the earliest, according to a statement issued by the Embassy of India on Saturday upon completion of the meeting.
According to another understanding, both sides will dispatch their permanent staff and office bearers within three months in order to carry forward the work undersigned for PDA.
The meeting also reached an understanding on releasing water to Nepal from Tanakpur Barrage. The River Mahakali is known as Sarada in India.
These meetings comprehensively reviewed the bilateral water-sector cooperation between India and Nepal, including the implementation of Mahakali Treaty, Sapta Kosi- Sun Kosi Project and cooperation in areas of flooding and inundation, another statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu reads, the progress of various bilateral committees, including Joint Committee on Inundation and Flood Management (JCIFM) and Joint Committee on Kosi and Gandak Project (JCKGP), was also discussed.
“It was agreed to take forward the Sapta Koshi high dam project through further studies which take into consideration the planned upstream projects, submergence area of the Project as well as other social, environmental and technical aspects. The Joint Team of Experts is expected to meet soon,” said the Indian Embassy statement.
Both sides also discussed and reached an understanding regarding the matters related to Sapta Koshi High-Dam that will be located in Nepal, changing the project parameters of the high-dam, formation of joint expert teams within one year and adding more manpowers in the bilateral mechanism formed for data sharing on flood and weather forecasting.
The Nepali side had thanked India for the assistance extended to Nepal regarding irrigation, flood management, inundation control, river embankment works, etc.
The Indian side highlighted the unique relationship between the two countries and the importance of proper management and utilization of water resources for mutual benefit, the Indian Embassy statement reads.