Kathmandu: India and Nepal on Tuesday inaugurated the first-ever cross-border petroleum pipeline in South Asia that will help the landlocked Himalayan nation meet its energy demands and substantially reduce the cost of fuel transportation.
The over 60 km-long Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli via a video link. The pipeline has been constructed with Indian assistance of Rs 324 crore.
While inaugurating the project, Prime Minister Oli said that the pipeline was a big achievement for Nepal. “We (India and Nepal) have similar visions of development, prosperity and happiness of our peoples, backed up by solid political commitment and strong determination to realise them,” he said. Oli also said that Modi’s campaign ‘Sabkaa Saath Sabkaa Vikas, Sabkaa Vishwas’ and his vision for ‘Happy Nepal, Prosperous Nepali’ capture the “essence of our commitment, determination, and efforts to transform the development landscape of our respective countries.”
Government officials in Nepal said that the pipeline will now be used to supply diesel from Bihar’s Motihari city in the first phase. The government has made necessary arrangement for the Nepal Army to provide security to the pipeline on their side of the border.
Currently, tankers carry petroleum products from India to Nepal as part of an arrangement which is in place since 1973.
The Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) hopes to save Rs 2 billion annually in the freight of petroleum products. It is also expected to save millions of rupees extra by reducing the leakage of petroleum products, myRepublica reported.
The Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline project 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, the project construction was delayed following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and supply obstruction along the southern border. The project construction works finally began in April last year.