Chi­nese rails in Kath­mandu

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - PR PRAD­HAN push­para­jprad­han@gmail.com

Prime Min­is­ter KP Sharma Oli has re­turned home with the mes­sage that Chi­nese rails will ar­rive in Kath­mandu in the days to come. Chi­nese supreme leader and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, dur­ing the meeting with our Prime Min­is­ter Oli, also hoped that the Chi­nese rails will reach Kath­mandu af­ter the com­ple­tion of the rail­way line up to Kerung. Cur­rently, a fea­si­bil­ity study is un­der­way re­gard­ing con­struc­tion of the 75 kms long rail­way line. Af­ter the fea­si­bil­ity study, China has agreed to pre­pare a de­tailed project re­port. In 1973, when late King Biren­dra was in Bei­jing, dur­ing the talks with the Chi­nese leader Mao Tse Tung, the lat­ter had talked of his dream of link­ing Ti­bet with Bei­jing through a rail­way line. Dur­ing that meeting King Biren­dra had wished for ex­tend­ing the Bei­jingTi­bet rail­way line up to Kath­mandu. Fi­nally, both the lead­ers had agreed to con­struct cross-bor­der rail­way line link­ing Kath­mandu with China. To­day, al­ready, fast trains are be­ing op­er­ated to Lhasa and now go­ing further to Sin­gatse. In the near fu­ture, the Chi­nese rails will ar­rive in Kerung, across the Nepal-China bor­der. From Kerung, the Chi­nese rails may come to Kath­mandu if we are strongly com­mit­ted in our own ef­forts to help the Chi­nese in ev­ery way to achieve this tar­get. How­ever, a sec­tion of the so-called lo­cal ex­perts who like to dance to for­eign tunes, have started to ques­tion about the ben­e­fit from bring­ing the Chi­nese rails to Kath­mandu. They are of the view that this is an ex­pen­sive project and it will cost not less than 2.5 bil­lion ru­pees per km of the rail­way line. In to­tal, 350 bil­lion ru­pees is ex­pected for the con­struc­tion of the rail­way line. How will Nepal man­age such a huge fund, they ques­tion. If Nepal will com­plete the project by tak­ing loans from China, the coun­try will be­come an eco­nomic slave of China as Nepal will not be able to payback the loan, they ar­gue. There is a pop­u­lar say­ing, "where there is a will, there will be a way". At the time when King Ma­hen­dra had in­au­gu­rated the East-West High­way (now Ma­hen­dra High­way), the na­tion's trea­sury was empty. That time, the King had asked all the citizens to do­nate their labour to con­struct the road. To­day, this high­way has be­come the only link from east to west Nepal via a good road, oth­er­wise, we had to travel from one part of the coun­try to an­other part of the coun­try via In­dian soil. If we have a strong will, then the present dream will also come true. We are fac­ing a huge deficit in our trade with China. Ex­perts be­lieve that if we bring a rail­way line just to im­port Chi­nese prod­ucts, the deficit will further in­crease, which is true. But China is also a huge na­tion and a big mar­ket for Nepal. If we study which prod­ucts we can ex­port to China and start to work on this from to­day, ob­vi­ously, we can send the rail back to China loaded with our prod­ucts. To­day, along with eco­nomic pros­per­ity, the Chi­nese life­style has also been im­proved. The labour cost has in­creased. There­fore, China is shift­ing its pro­duc­tion plants to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries where the labour cost is cheaper. If we will be able to pro­vide a peace­ful, dis­ci­plined and apo­lit­i­cal labour base along with guar­an­tee­ing further fa­cil­i­ties, the Chi­nese in­vestors will estab­lish in­dus­tries in Nepal and ex­port the prod­ucts to China. Once, a Chi­nese scholar had said that the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has been in­tro­duced not to make the neigh­bour­ing/part­ner coun­tries poor but to make them rich. He had further ex­plained that if one coun­try will be­come rich by leav­ing all her neigh­bours poor, that coun­try will not be able to en­joy the charm of pros­per­ity. China be­lieves, Chi­nese prod­ucts can be con­sumed by the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries only if they can af­ford the price. If the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries be­come rich, then only can they af­ford the Chi­nese prod­ucts, he ex­plained, while talk­ing about the BRI theme. Be that as it may, one thing is clear that pros­per­ity will not come along with the ar­rival of the Chi­nese rail. We have to think bet­ter and work hard to bring pros­per­ity and the Chi­nese rails will be­come an ef­fec­tive eco­nomic tool for ful­fill­ing such a task.

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