Kathmandu, February 20, 2017:Â India has expressed interest to link Kathmandu with two Indian cities, New Delhi and Kolkata, using direct railway lines in a bid to strengthen cross-border connectivity and facilitate movement of people between the two countries.
â€œThese two railway tracks must be built soon to increase Nepalâ€™s connectivity with India,â€ Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said while delivering a keynote speech at the Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017, which kicked off on Sunday. â€œI will give priority to build such networks soon.â€
Stating that infrastructure was prerequisite for higher economic growth, Prabhu urged Nepalâ€™s government and private sector to ramp up investment in construction of physical infrastructure. Requesting foreign investors to invest in Nepalâ€™s infrastructure development, he said such investment will offer double benefit to them.
â€œIf you invest in infrastructure in a country with wide infrastructure gap, you will get good return on investment. Also, economic growth triggered by infrastructural development will provide additional benefits to investors,â€ the Indian minister told the two-day summit organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries in association with the government and Youth Community for Nepalese Contractors.
Nepal needs to invest up to $18 billion in infrastructure projects by 2020 to remove binding constraints to economic growth, says a World Bank report. Of the total amount, up to $7 billion should go to the energy sector, especially development of hydropower projects, and another $5.5 billion should go towards the transport sector, the multilateral lending agency has said.
â€œCurrently, our focus is on development of infrastructure in energy and transport sectors,â€ said Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. â€œI want to assure you that your investment would be safe in Nepal and the government is committed to creating a favourable climate for foreign investors.â€ Participants of the summit also urged Nepal to increase its infrastructure investment from 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the last 15 years to 8 to 12 percent of the GDP.
â€œBy doing this, Nepal can accomplish key infrastructure milestone by 2030, such as generating 10,000 MW of electricity, connecting all cities and local bodies with blacktopped roads, completing construction of [Kathmandu-Tarai] Fast Track and other expressways, having modern international airports, providing quality basic services and expanding irrigation networks across the country,â€ said Wencai Zhang, vice president of the Asian Development Bank.
â€œThese infrastructure projects can fully unleash Nepalâ€™s development potential.â€
Zhang also assured ADBâ€™s support in Nepalâ€™s effort to deepen regional integration through cross-border road linkages and regional power trade. The summit is being attended by leading global business leaders.