An inland waterway is any body of water, surrounded by land, which is navigable by ships. There was a time when these waterways were thought to be useless in terms of trade and commerce. However, the tables have turned now for India as she has revisited her concepts I about watercourse utility.
Nepal, which is a landlocked country with no direct sea cargo facilities, is also looking to multiply its trade routes and expand its commerce horizon. Pursuing this forward-looking approach, India and Nepal are setting up an infrastructure in Kalughat and Sahibgunj.
This arrangement is being done to accommodate Nepal’s desire to use India’s inland waterways for cargo shipment and as trade routes.
In July 2018, representatives from Nepal and India initiated talks on the prospect of launching inland water navigation project in Koshi and Narayani rivers. This project is referred to as a dream project by the Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
Earlier, during Oli’s visit to India back in April, both the countries had decided to develop an infrastructure for inland water navigation through Indian rivers to Nepal’s border. This activity would ease cargo and passengers movement and boost the trade activities in the region.
Following this ambition, the first meeting under the banner of Waterways Connectivity between India and Nepal held in in Kathmandu. The center of the discussion was the construction of the infrastructure to cater to techno-economic requirements.
Many positive agreements were carried out as the result of this meeting. One of them was the agreement upon the development of waterways on the two rivers emerging out of the Ganga River. Kalughat and Sahibgunj have already seen a massive investment in this regard.
The joint-secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, who led the Nepalese negotiating team, Mr. Madhav Belbase remarked: “Using the Indian infrastructure, we can easily expand cargo to India movement up to Nepal border by gradually upgrading the facilities.”
In the initial phase, 300 to 600 metric tons of cargo will be delivered from either river. Later on, when the projects earn pace, the cargo capacity would be increased manifolds. Nepal rates this project very highly as there are a lot of perks associated with it.
Thanks to a healthy bilateral trade relationship, the project is going towards its completion very fast, which is a good omen for both the countries. This endeavor can surely become a game changer project for Nepalese trade and cargo sector.
According to the numbers in 2016, Nepal exports goods to India worth $40 million and its imports from India stand at $5 billion. These numbers are bound to undergo a massive surge in the wake of this futuristic project.
There are also some recommendations to amend the Transit Treaty, which regulates the trade relations between India and Nepal, in order to construct a better working relationship in the backdrop of this inland waterways project.
These amendments will also buoy up the economic sector and enhance the living standards of these third world countries.