Kathmandu, July 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepali counterpart KP Sharma Oli will formally launch next month the Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline project, starting fuel trade between the two countries.
The exact date for the inauguration of the project is yet to be decided but according to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) the two governments are working to ensure that the inauguration takes place in the first week of August, reports the Himalayan Times. The inauguration will be done through video conferencing, where the two prime ministers will press a button in New Delhi and Amlekhgunj, resulting in opening of the valve of the petroleum pipeline. The newspaper also quoted a source in the Nepal foreign ministry as saying that the project could be operationalised by the heads of state of the two nations as President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, during her recent visit to India, had invited her counterpart Ram Nath Kovind for an official visit to the country.
“While the first option is more likely, the two governments are also exploring the possibility of the second option,” the source told the daily. On Thursday, NOC and Indian Oil Corporation successfully concluded the "testing transfer" of the pipeline project. The IOC, through its refinery in Motihari, had supplied diesel to NOC’s Amlekhgunj-based depot the previous day.
The 69-kilometre long pipeline has been constructed by India. It will ensure smooth, cost-effective and environment-friendly supply of petroleum products to Nepal. Along with reducing huge transportation cost for NOC, commercial operation of the oil project will also ensure reduction in fuel price in the domestic market. “Commercial operation of the cross-border fuel project will bring down fuel price by at least one rupee per litre,” said Sushil Bhattarai, deputy executive director at NOC.
The Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline was first proposed in 1996. However, the project finally edged closer to reality during Modi’s visit to Kathmandu in 2014.
The two governments had inked an agreement to execute the project in August 2015. However, project construction was delayed following the 2015 earthquake and supply obstruction along the southern border. The project construction works finally began in April last year with the mandate to complete the project within 30 months. The project was completed much ahead of the deadline and is now ready for commercial operation. (UNI)