When KP Sharma Oli was Nepal’s Prime Minister, China seemed to be in charge of Nepal’s political affairs.The paper dragon crossed all limits of diplomatic decency and interfered deeply in the internal affairs of the Nepal Communist Party which was in power at the time. China was reducing Nepal into a client country and looking to swallow it with its debt trap.
However, ever since the new government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba came to power in Nepal, the country dumped Communist China in order to pursue its centuries-old relationship with India. Now, it has taken the final step to clean up the last vestiges of Chinese influence in Nepal.
Nepal gives two power projects to India
It was four years back when China withdrew from the two power projects —West Seti Hydro power Project and Seti River Hydro power Project. Now, after four years, these projects have been awarded to India by Nepal.
India’s state-owned National Hydro Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) Ltd and Investment Board Nepal have come together to develop the two power projects in the western part of the Himalayan nation. The decision came after Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s decided to expand power sector partnership between India and Nepal.
The estimated cost of the projects 750MW West Seti and 450MW SR6 projects is $2.4 billion. Notable, the two Chinese companies had backed out from developing the power project despite signing MoUs with the Nepalese government.
The NHPC will take two years to conduct a project study after which the construction work will take place. India’s SJVN Ltd is already developing a 900MW project and was awarded another 679 MW project last year in the landlocked country.
Sher Bahadur Deuba’s India First policy
Earlier in May, Kathmandu decided to ditch the Chinese camp and initiate talks with India for the development of the West Seti Hydro power Project. The proposed 750-megawatt West Seti Hydro power Project had remained in hibernation for six decades over investment concerns. The decision to go with an Indian company comes in the backdrop of big Chinese hydro companies being snubbed by the Nepalese government led by pro-India Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who is proceeding with an unapologetic ‘India-first policy’.
The then Nepalese media reports had suggested that Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is keen to grant the contract to an Indian company to satiate New Delhi which does not want to deal with any Chinese company associated with the hydropower projects.
You see, Nepal was one of the first South Asian countries to get on board with China’s BRI. Even before BRI, in 2011, China promised to build the Budhi Gandaki hydro project by 2022. However, to date, the construction has not even started as the Chinese continue to dillydally the project. The Chinese simply want to annex parts of Nepal through its dubious scheme and get closer to India. It used the strategy to good effect by making former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli dance to its tunes.
However, Deuba entered and over 90 per cent of Chinese projects in Nepal were stalled in the last few months.
Moreover, in order to mark the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, New Delhi is in line with its promise of inaugurating 75 development projects in Nepal by August 2023. So, Nepal is slowly kicking out China and India is ensuring to clean up the last vestiges in Nepal.
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