The Centre has decided to hike its financial aid for the financial year beginning April this year to Nepal to Rs 650 crore, a 73% increase from the previous year allocation, while expressing concern over increasing Chinese presence in some of the neighbourhood countries.
India’s aid to Nepal in 2017-18 financial year stood at Rs 375 crore. However, the largest allocation of aid by India has yet again been kept for Bhutan at Rs 1,813 crore, which is part of the five-year commitment to help the royal government build hydro-electric projects at Punatsangchhu, and Mangdechhu among other infrastructure works.
Bhutan had firmly stood behind India when its troops and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped building a road in the disputed trijunction by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face-off ended on August 28. This has been disclosed in the parliamentary committee report on external affairs tabled last week.
“China is making serious headway in infrastructure projects in our neighbourhood. Specifying the strategy devised to counter increasing Chinese presence in our backyard, the government is committed to advancing its development partnership with Bhutan and Nepal, as per their priorities,” the report says. “The allocation of funds under to Bhutan and Nepal for 2018-19 is a reflection of our expanded development partnership with the two countries and continued emphasis on expeditious implementation of our ongoing projects, in consultation and coordination with the respective governments, for mutual benefits,” it adds.
In a response to the panel on whether the sharp rise in allocation to Nepal is a strategic step to counter growing Chinese influence, the report states, “India and Nepal have close cultural and civilisational ties and a wide-ranging and expanding partnership across diverse sectors, which stand firmly on their own.” The report points out security concerns on the Indo-Nepal border among reasons to hike the aid. Detailed project reports have been prepared for the Integrated Check Posts at Nepalgunj and Bhairahawa in Nepal.
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