KATHMANDU: Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, paid an official visit to Lumbini on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti, at the invitation of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, on Monday.
The two prime ministers held bilateral talks in Lumbini. They recalled the fruitful discussions they had in New Delhi during PM Deuba’s official visit to New Delhi from April 1 to 3. They had a broad overview of Nepal-India cooperation and matters of mutual interests with a view to further enhancing the close and cordial ties between the two countries, as per the press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
PM Deuba thanked his Indian counterpart for the Indian government’s assistance in fighting the Covid 19 pandemic. He also expressed gratitude for India’s support in the post-earthquake reconstruction, including the heritage sites.
The two sides discussed promoting cooperation in connectivity; early supply of fertilisers; expeditious conclusion of the revised Transit Treaty, its Protocols and Memorandum; review of the treaty of trade; additional air entry routes; hydropower generation; culture and tourism including Buddhist circuit and Ramayana circuit; education and academic collaboration; increasing the threshold of carrying Indian currency by individuals; and cooperation at regional and multilateral forums in matters of mutual interest.
The two sides discussed infrastructure development including the dry port and integrated check posts in Chandani Dodhara as well as bridges linking Purnagiri Mai, Uttarakhand, India and Parshuram Dham in Dadeldhura, Nepal; and suspension bridge over Mahakali River.
Prime Minister Deuba requested the Government of India to consider constructing Motigada-Fattepur-Rampur Road in Udaypur district of Nepal under Indian grant assistance.
In the context of official inauguration and commencement of commercial operation of the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA), PM Deuba highlighted that the airport will further facilitate connectivity, cultural linkages, and people-to-people movements and promote cultural tourism. He also requested the additional air entry routes from Mahendranagar, Nepalgunj and Janakpur.
Likewise, PM Modi assured that authorities concerned of India would take up the matters raised by the Deuba.
The two prime ministers stressed the importance of hydropower for clean energy and noted that immense potentials exist for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in hydropower sector. Prime Minister Deuba invited interested companies from India such as NHPC for the development of West Seti Hydroelectricity project. The two Prime Ministers agreed to take up the Pancheswor Project with priority. The two sides also agreed in principle to establish the sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar. The necessary process will be taken in due course through appropriate local authorities.
During the two prime ministers’ visit to Mayadevi Temple, they laid the foundation stone for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at the Lumbini Monastic Zone. They attended the special ceremony organised by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) in Lumbini International Buddhist Meditation Centre and Assembly Hall in the afternoon. In their address, the two Prime Ministers highlighted the importance of Buddha’s teachings of peace, harmony, and mutual respect.
Prime Minister Deuba highlighted the eternal, archaeological and historical value of Lumbini a sacred land and the fountain of Buddhism, world peace and harmony and said that the divine footprints of Lord Buddha continue to inspire our pursuit of peace and sustainable development. The text of the remarks by Prime Minister Deuba and its unofficial translation is attached.
The two Prime Ministers also witnessed the exchange of the following memoranda of understanding (MoU) related to cooperation and collaboration in academic field and power sector:
i. MoU between the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS), Tribhuvan University, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on the Establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian studies.
ii. MoU between Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal, and ICCR on the establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies.
iii. MoU for Cooperation between Kathmandu University, Nepal and Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM)
iv. Letter of Agreement between Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal, and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), India (for joint degree programme at Masters’ level at KU Campus).
v. MoU between the Lumbini Buddhist University (LBU) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations on the Establishment of the Dr. Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies (ICCR Chair).
vi. Memorandum of Understanding between Nepal Electricity Authority and SJVN Ltd for development and implementation of Arun-4 hydropower project, Nepal.
The Prime Minister of India returned in the afternoon upon successfully completing the visit to Lumbini on the pious day of Buddha Purnima. Prime Minister Modi was seen off by Prime Minister Deuba, Madam Arzu Rana Deuba, ministers and senior officials of the Government of Nepal.
The Indian Prime Minister’s official visit to Lumbini has contributed to deepening the socio-cultural bonds and cooperation between Nepal and India, according to MoFA.