China-India energy rivalry in spotlight as Modi visits Nepal
Energy will be high on the agenda when India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Nepal on Sunday (August 2), eager to claw back lost ground in the race for resources with China.
KATHMANDU: Energy will be high on the agenda when India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Nepal on Sunday (August 2), eager to claw back lost ground in the race for resources with China.
A vast network of fast-flowing rivers through the Himalayas leaves huge untapped hydropower resources at Nepal’s disposal, and New Delhi has spent years encouraging Indian investment with an eye on the country’s water resources. However, proposals to develop joint ventures between India and Nepal have stalled due to disagreements over perceived threats to Nepalese sovereignty, allowing rival China to step into the breach.
A recently leaked draft plan to develop the hydropower sector using Indian investment sparked a furore in Kathmandu, with politicians and commentators saying it would grant New Delhi exclusive rights to Nepal’s water resources. “Nepalese politicians want India to pay attention to them, but they are also fearful that given a chance, it will take over their resources, being a bigger, more powerful country,” said Lok Raj Baral, former ambassador to New Delhi.
India has traditionally exerted huge influence in Kathmandu, leaving many in Nepal wary of New Delhi and eager to embrace Beijing, whose investment they do not see as politically motivated, Baral told AFP.