India and Nepal have failed to adequately cash in on their geographic similarity for years to build up better connectivity while cross-border infrastructure also did not receive the requisite focus and commitment in the past, Nepal’s envoy to this country has said. “Cross border infrastructure and state of the art connectivity means are the fundamental prerequisite of strong economic engagement and this is the area that did not receive adequate focus and commitment from us in the past,” Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay said in a speech read in his absentia at the release of a report at the Observer Research Foundation here.
The speech was read in his absence at the programme on Friday. Underscoring the geographical proximity between India and Nepal, Upadhyay said this advantage could have been utilised long ago to boost up trade, tourism and other economic engagements between the two countries. “There are at least a dozen points in the proximity of Nepal-India international border where Indian railway heads reached decades ago. We could have extended the railways by some kilometres to reach Nepal to speed up trade, transit, flow of tourists and movements of common people in those points,” he said.
Hailing the ongoing cross border rail and road projects as a positive step to build up better connectivity, Upadhyay said his country was hopeful about the “early concretization” of the projects. “We are implementing cross border railway projects at two principal border points while three more such projects are in the pipeline. The news of linking Katmandu with Indian railways was welcomed in our country. Our roads are turning out to be better on both sides,” he mentioned.
The envoy also urged both the governments to speed up the work for road connectivity between Nepal and India to avoid certain bottlenecks that unnecessarily delay the transportation. “The cross-border roads still pass through the bottlenecks of crowded marketplace and the trucks have to wait for ridiculously long hours to ply on these stretches of few kilometres,” Upadhyay said. “What’s required is some more speed in the implementation of projects like ICPs and the roads linking national highways on both sides,” he added.