Nepal to use remittance to develop hydro-power projects

KATHMANDU, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — The Nepal government announced a scheme to invest remittance money by migrant workers for developing hydro- power project, officials said here on Tuesday.

     Proposed by Hydro-power Investment and Development Company ( HIDC), a company formed by the government to fund hydro-power projects here, the Energy Ministry has been working towards implementing the idea within this year.  

     “Studies suggest the remittance money sent by the Nepali migrant workers back home can be sufficient to develop hydro-power plant with a capacity between 200-400 MW,” Deepak Rauniyar, chief executive officer at the HIDC told Xinhua by phone.  

     He said the collected money sent as remittance will be invested by the HIDC as equity.

     “The profit from the project will be put under pension fund and will be distributed to the returnees from foreign employment as per their investment during their retired life,” said Rauniyar adding, “They will work abroad till they can while they will get the pension from the profit in their old age.”

     Nepal ranked the third among countries receiving the highest proportion of remittance in gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s remittance reached 25 percent of its GDP in 2012, according to a recent report by the World Bank.

     During the 10 months of the last fiscal year, Nepal received remittance worth 4.44 billion U.S. dollars.

     “The project to be built with remittance will help curbing the protracted power woes while it will also help in capital formation out of the amount that are now spent for luxury and other unproductive purposes,” a high level official at Energy Ministry said seeking anonymity.

     He said the proposal will be endorsed from the Finance Ministry within a month and the construction is expected to complete within this year. Enditem

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Nepal, China to launch joint venture airlines

KATHMANDU, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — A Chinese airlines company has entered Nepal’s market with the collaboration of Nepali companies to initiate a new aviation business, the Himalayan Airlines.

     China’s Tibet Airlines has set up partnership with Nepal’s HIF (Himalaya Infrastructure Fund) Aviation Investment Company and Yeti World Investment Company.

     The agreement among the three companies has been signed in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.

     The company will first launch direct flights from Kathmandu to Lasha and Kathmandu to Chengdu using aircraft including Airbus-319 and Airbus-320.

     Both Chinese destinations are major cities in the country’s southwest.  Enditem

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Nepal’s major parties to revisit their position on federalism

KATHMANDU, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) — Nepal’s major parties—Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UNL and UCPN (Maoist)—have agreed to revisit their respective position on federalism, cross-party leaders said on Wednesday.

     Federalism remains one of the contentious issues of the new constitution as the major parties are sharply divided over the principles of federalism in the Himalayan country. NC and UML are of the view that there should not be more than 5 to 7 provinces in the new constitution.

     But, the opposition party UCPN (Maoist) wants more than 10 federal provinces in the new constitution.  Madhes-based parties, however, want one Madhes one province, where the country’s 51 percent population reside.

     A top Maoist leader of the UCPN (Maoist) told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that all parties have agreed to revisit their agenda as the chances for a consensus among the parties under the existing position are slim.

     According to the agreement, parties will engage in internal discussion for one week to revisit their position on federalism.

     The major dispute is related to the number of the provinces and the second dispute is about the naming of the federal provinces.

     Opposition parties are of the view that federal provinces should be named by ethnic groups. But, NC and UML contend that naming the federal states by the name of certain ethnic groups would trigger conflict in the country.

     After the parties prepare their respective position, there would be a three-party meeting to forge consensus on federalism.

     On the issue of the forms of governance and electoral system, parties said there would be consensus at the last minute, and the fate of the new constitution depends on the agreement among parties on the issue of federalism.  Enditem

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Largest automobile expo in Nepal to kick off from Sept. 3 

KATHMANDU, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — The private sector body working in the sales and distribution of automobiles in Nepal is all set to host NADA Automobile Expo-2014 in the country’s capital from Sept. 3, a press release issued by the organizers said on Tuesday.

     The annual premier event, which is hosted jointly by Nepal Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) and Global Exposition and Management Service (GEMS), is expected to cheer the Nepali automobile lovers and buyers during the upcoming festive season here.

     According to the press release, the five-day event will feature more than 100 stalls displaying new automobile products.

     “The event will let buyers and automobile connoisseurs know about the new innovations, inventions and development in global automobile sector,” reads the press release.

     Automobile dealers will showcase their two-wheelers, four- wheelers and other vehicles to woo customers in an area of 85,000 square meters at the Exhibition Hall in Kathmandu.

     “The event will feature four-wheelers from 12 brands like Daihatsu, Fiat, Honda, Ford, KIA, Skoda, TATA, Toyota, Volkswagon, among others and motorbikes of 11 brands like Bajaj, Hero, KTM, Mahindra, Royal Enfield, TVS and Yamaha, among others,” Shekhar Golchha, NADA president said.

     The largest automobile event in Nepal, the expo expects total sales worth 10 million U.S. dollars and a total of 50,000 footfalls during the expo.

     “Compared to other countries, penetration of automobile in Nepal is very low,” said Golcha, adding, “Automobile industry will not grow until there is high penetration of automobiles across the country.”

     The organizers also said the show will provide a platform for automobile dealers to market their products and services and the customers to know more about the vehicles that they want to buy.  Enditem

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Nepal says 20,000 displaced by flood, landslide

KATHMANDU, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — The Nepal government has said that the number of toll from flood and landslide had reached 105, while 20,000 people were displaced across the country.

     The government also said a total of 136 were still missing and the number could rise as the government is yet to collect the final data from the field.

     According to the data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday, hundreds are still missing across the country. Due to the incessant rain, about 25 districts of the country have been badly affected from the natural calamities.  Security agencies including Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Forced have been deployed in the flood and landslide affected areas.

     The government is finding it very difficult to rescue the affected people and provide relief packages to the displaced people. According to the Home Ministry data, as many as 9,477 houses were destroyed with 9,510 others damaged.  

     Considering the crisis, the political parties in the country have decided to close the Parliament for seven days. All lawmakers will visit the flood and landslide affected areas to provide relief packages to the people. The opposition parties on Monday demanded to announce a national crisis to collect the national and international funds for the flood-victims.    ”The government has failed to provide relief packages to the flood victims. Thousands of flood victims are without any relief package,” opposition party leader UCPN (Maoist) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal said in the Parliament. Enditem

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Nepal drafts laws to control violence against women in name of practicing witchcraft

KATHMANDU, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — Nepal has prepared a draft of a new law proposing a 10-year imprisonment to the people who give torture to women in the name of practicing witchcraft, a government minister said Tuesday.   Manhandling and giving torture to the elder women in the name of witchcraft is one of the major problems in Nepal. Every year hundreds of women are beaten and tortured on the charge of witchcraft.

     The new bill has been drafted following the pressure from the various rights activists that people involved in torturing the women are walking free in the lack of strict law.

     Minister of Women and Children Nilam KC registered the bill of law in the Parliament. KC said that the law would be a milestone step in controlling the violence against women in Nepal.  

     A superstition is widespread in Nepal that women involved in witchcraft possess supernatural powers that can make people and animal sick or even claim their lives.

     Widows, elderly and poor women without the support of family members and those from so called lower classes tend to be accused of practicing witchcraft. Women accused of performing witchcraft have been subjected to beating, forced to strip naked and feed excrement, among others. In Nepal, superstition and caste-based discrimination is rife.   Torturing women accused of practicing witchcraft are rampant not only in rural areas but also in the cities. There will be deliberations in the House before passing the bill. The new law is promulgated after existing laws are not sufficient to curb the violence against women.  Enditem

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Flooding, landslides kill at least 84 in Nepal, 156 still missing

KATHMANDU, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — At least 84 people died in Nepal after landslides and flooding were triggered across the country due to the continual rainfall, officials confirmed here on Sunday.

     The death toll reached 84 after 33 dead bodies were recovered on Saturday.

     The Himalayan country, Nepal recorded heavy and continuous rainfall last week. Apart from those who died, 156 others have gone missing with slim hopes to be found alive.

     Ten districts in the country’s far western region suffered most damage due to the landslides and flooding while details of actual loss both of life and properties are yet to come.

     “Corpses of cattle are everywhere, houses are under water, properties have turned into debris while the farmlands with crops have been washed away,” Sanjaya Parajuli, a local political cadre reported Xinhua from Birendranagar on Sunday.

     “Incessant rainfall also left some 1,500 homeless and stranded in the calamity-hit zone, waiting for choppers to rescue them,” Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, spokesperson at Nepal’s Home Ministry said by phone.

     Terrified people started heading for highlands with whatever possession that the mudslides and flooding left while others are mourning deaths of their near and dear ones blaming the government for responding cold.

     Home Ministry officials said it has been difficult for the government to dispatch rescue logistics to the disaster-hit area after most of the major roads have been swept away.

     The poor South Asian country began suffering the nature’s rage from Aug. 2 this year when a massive landslide in Sindhupalchowk district, the country’s eastern part, killed 156.

     For lacking pre-response capacity and prompt rescue efforts, hundreds of people die in Nepal during monsoon every year. Help from rescue efforts from locals, volunteers and security personnel are very limited to the destitute people.  Enditem

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Nepal to be founding member of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

KATHMANDU, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) — The Nepal government has given a green signal that it would be a founding member of China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), officials said here on Wednesday.

     In a bid to initiate dialogues and to strengthen bilateral economic, trade and business relationship with China, Nepal’s Finance Minister Dr Ram Saran Mahat has left for the northern neighbor this afternoon.

     According to the country’s Finance Ministry, the meeting of Council of Ministers a month ago has already given approval to get the membership of the AIIB and that the Finance Minister’s visit to China is to prepare ground for the same.

     “During the visit, Minister Mahat will hold talks and interactions with the concerned Chinese officials for implementing the decision of meeting of Council of Ministers,” Ramsaran Pudasaini, spokesperson of the Finance Ministry told Xinhua by phone.

     Madhu Kumar Marasini, joint secretary at the Finance Ministry, who is also accompanying Minister Mahat in the visit, will head the technical committee during negotiations at the fourth consultative meeting on the establishment of the AIIB.

     Chinese vice finance minister Shi Yaobin, during his visit to Nepal in the first week of June, had asked Nepal to become the founding member of the proposed bank.

     Meanwhile, Minister Mahat on Tuesday said he was paying the visit to China “at an invitation of Chinese Finance Minister to discuss bilateral economic cooperation” through twitter.  

     According to the Finance Ministry, the membership of the AIIB will help poor countries like Nepal which is finding hard time to invest in mega infrastructure projects.

     “It will be easy for Nepal to get soft loans from AIIB to invest in infrastructure projects here,” a high level source at the ministry said.

     Member countries will receive economic and physical cooperation from the bank and Nepal expects investment in energy production, transmission lines, tourism, road and railway development, and airport construction to become a developing country by 2022, according to the government officials.

     Minister Mahat is also scheduled to meet with Chinese finance and commerce ministers, among others and hold talks on enhancing economic relations between the two countries.  Enditem

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Nepal says 156 killed in Saturday’s landslide

KATHMANDU, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) — Nepal’s local authorities on Wednesday formally declared that 156 people were killed in last Saturday’s disastrous landslide in the rural part of the country, officials said.

     A meeting of District Administration Office (DAO) of Sindhupalchok Wednesday morning declared that the toll covers and the number of discovered bodies and the missing.

     Rescuers have so far found 33 dead bodies from the debris while other 123 are still missing.

     “It is now almost impossible to find the missing people alive,” Gopal Parajuli, Chief District Officer told Xinhua via phone.

     The DAO has provisioned 400 U.S. dollars to the family of each deceased for the funeral rites and mourning expenses.

     Parajuli said the families of 36 deceased have already taken the amount till Tuesday evening.

     The DAO has also committed to provide 50 U.S. dollars for those whose houses have been dismantled due to the landslide for setting up a temporary residence.

     A terrible landslide had hit Mankha VDC in Sindhupalchok district in Nepal’s eastern hilly region last Saturday.

     Detailed report of loss is yet to be ascertained, but locals assume that they lost millions U.S. dollars worth in property including, houses, land, cattle and other possessions.

     Around 5,000 people from 11 districts have been affected due to the landslide while more than 1,000 have been displaced.

     The DAO estimated that 129 houses have been completely ruined by the calamity.  Enditem

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News Analysis: Billion-dollar gift not enough for India-Nepal thaw

News Analysis: Billion-dollar gift not enough for India-Nepal thaw

     by Zhou Shengping

     KATHMANDU, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) — A billion-U.S. dollar soft loan to be used to develop infrastructure and energy projects and aid to curb goiter in rural districts are among benefits came to Nepal as gift from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two- day official visit from August 3.

     Without inking two key agreements, the Power Trade Agreement ( PTA) and the Power Development Agreement (PDA) with Nepal abundant water resources, the 64-year-old Modi on Monday ended his whirlwind trip and returned to India facing increasing power scarcity.

     In view of the second setback about the pact signing, which can serves as a salutary reminder that entrenched mutual mistrust and suspicion between India and Nepal can’t be overcome on a single day, it is too early to say that a new chapter has already been opened in Nepal-India relations.

     In the past two decades, India was apt to be absent to develop its ties with Nepal in a way that an arrogant old brother with deep pockets deals with a small and insignificant younger brother.

     There are two examples to show Nepal’s long-standing grievance. One is the third meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission which was held during Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s July 25 to 27 visit to Kathmandu.

     For this high-level forum that oversees the gamut of bilateral relations, India is late for 23 years.

     Another is India’s inconceivable neglect of its neighbor Nepal.

     No any Indian prime minister paid official visit to Kathmandu that witnessed nine prime ministerial delegations from its side to New Dehli since 1997.

     For Modi’s much-anticipated visit, India is late for 17 years.

     However, times has changed now.

     Carrying with heavy political symbolism from the new Indian government, External Affairs Minister Swaraj came, followed by Modi in less than 100 days after assuming office, who reiterated that he would come again to attend the 18th SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in November.

     Modi is smart.

     His diplomatic efforts to widen and intensify India’s ties with Nepal proved partly successful, especially his speech made in the Constitution Assembly/Parliament on August 3 that opened a floodgate of comments on social media.

     By conveying his unwillingness to interfere in Nepal’s internal affairs and his willingness to sort out all issues between both sides in a friendly way, Modi demonstrated a kind of future of India-Nepal ties towards equal footing.

     By expressing his congratulations on Nepal for choosing ballot over bullet and his respect for Nepal as a federal, democratic Republic, Modi showed his interest to unite all political parties to redefine traditional bilateral relations.

     By saying that Nepal can become a leading exporter of herbal medicines and this beautiful country can become a developed nation and Nepal can achieve its dreams, Modi tried to ignite Nepalese people’s enthusiasm to struggle for a better future.

     “It made me feel as though I had come home,” Modi said in a statement after returning to India on Monday, but just as he put it, he can’t impose India’s will.    

     The speed, depth and breadth of the improvement and development of bilateral ties also depend on Nepal that is still mired in the murky political swamp without thorough-going reform.

     Secondly, the postponement of the hydro-power agreements hampers India’s dream of being the dominant investor of water resources and the only buyer of hydropower in Nepal.

     India needs to do more homework to realize true win-win cooperation with Nepal.    

     Otherwise, the chance is slim to ultimately get over the long- existing anti-India sentiments in Nepal.

     It is lucky that Modi, who is considered as a man of action by Indian media, has at least four years to satisfy his ambition with the good beginning to open a new chapter in Nepal-India relations.

     In this sense, the value of his maiden Nepal trip as a prime minister is worth more than one billion U.S dollar.  Enditem

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