A hospital in Manang, 5,000 emergency shelters, and an oil pipeline – a great week for Nepal

Can you believe we were amidst meetings with a visiting dignitary from the north, signing agreements which basically said they would give money to help us build a hospital in Manang, more money to buy 5,000 emergency shelters when the south shot a tweet? Out of the blue we are informed the Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline will be inaugurated by the two Prime Ministers’ via ‘video-conferencing’ on Tuesday – we mean just ‘double bonanza’.

Furthermore, guess what? The testing of the pipeline was completed in June (we had done a report), the pipeline was supposed to come into operation in July – how we reached into September, no body knows. And then out of the blue, the pipeline is ready and the media is caught in a celebration frenzy – no one asks the obvious question – why today?

Nevertheless, the announcement of the inauguration comes as a relief –  that too 10 days ahead of the 3rd anniversary of our constitution – a day which coincides with the day the south imposed an unofficial blockade along our border. At least India cannot claim fuel supply is cut off because there is ‘unrest in the border anymore.’

While causing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Nepal, the blockade also permanently damaged diplomatic relations with the south. Capitalising on the sentiment, PM Oli swung to victory – the one and only leader who stood against India’s bullying. Indian PM Modi, famed for forging ties with several foreign allies failed with their immediate neighbour.

He may try but Nepalis are not going to forget the blockade – and in many ways the oil-pipeline is another grim reminder of the blockade.

Meanwhile, Nepal at the same time is not done asking from China – after signing two agreements which would receive 9.5 million Yuan (NRS 15,24,15,102) for emergency shelters and 220 million Yuan (USD 3,52,96,12,900) for a hospital in Manang, the ministers requested China to step up the 9 projects as enlisted in the Belt and Road Initiative project.

As per a previous agreement and a part of China’s ambitious BRI project, China has agreed to invest in 9 development projects of Nepal, the Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu road; Kimathanka-Hile road; road construction from Dipayal to the Chinese southern border; Tokha-Bidur road; Galchhi-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung 400kv transmission line; Kerung-Kathmandu rail; 762MW Tamor hydroelectricity project; 426MW Phukot Karnali hydroelectric project; and Madan Bhandari University.

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