‘Nepal can be richest country in South Asia’

PATNA: Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar today said Nepal can become the richest country of South Asia if it exploits its water resources and manages the Himalayan rivers that flow through Nepal and India.

At an interaction with Nepali journalists at his residence, Kumar said sustainable management of Himalayan rivers would irrigate vast areas on both sides of the border and help mitigate floods. “You have enormous hydro power potential and we are the biggest market for your power. We are always ready to buy your power,” Kumar said.

He said any sustainable management of Himalayan rivers would have a hydel component which could generate huge amounts of surplus power for Nepal. “We can do things on our side of the border to manage rivers and mitigate floods, but the more prudent step would be to build structures in Nepal,” he added.

Expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai for gracing the Global Bihar Summit, he highlighted the need for joint efforts to manage Himalayan rivers. “Bihar and Nepal share historical, cultural and linguistic ties. People on both sides of the border always think of the wellbeing of one another. We can, therefore, forge partnership for development.”.

Kumar informed he had received invitation from PM Bhattarai to visit Nepal yesterday and said he had asked Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad to fix a suitable date for his visit.

Asked if he discussed the problem of Maoist insurgency with Bhattarai, he said the solution lay with India. He said he had initiated integrated development programmes in insurgency hit areas because the problem was not only of law and order but had socio-economic dimensions too.

Kumar said people of Bihar wanted to see Nepal’s peace process and constitution writing completed on time. “The most important thing for Nepal is to institutionalise democracy.”

Asked how he viewed the armed movement in Nepal’s Tarai region, Kumar said neither his government nor the union government approved of violence anywhere.

In response to another question, the Chief Minister said although security of the border was mainly the duty of the central government, he had acted promptly whenever he heard of any incident of harassment against Nepali citizens. “Let me tell you very frankly that there has been unhindered movement across the border for ages and no one should try to prevent this natural interaction,” he added.

He further said his focus on inclusive politics, development with justice programme, uplift of the poor and marginalised groups and castes, girls’ education, rule of law and infrastructure building helped change the face of the state within seven years. “Our success story can be experimented in other parts of India and also Nepal,” he added.

Kumar said his next focus would be to revolutionise the agriculture sector. From HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

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