Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s five-day state visit to India concluded yesterday, with a 46-point joint press statement summing up the results of the visit. His high-level talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and his meetings with other high-ranking Indian dignitaries and representatives of other sectors of society provided the Prime Minister an opportunity to have an exchange of ideas and concerns bearing on various aspects of Nepal-India relations. The visit has stressed the close relations existing between the two countries, though from time to time characterized by various irritants. The joint press statement mentions the “comprehensive talks on all aspects of bilateral relationship” that the two prime ministers held. Deuba’s present visit is his fourth to India, as Prime Minister, and also his first to any country since assuming office in June this year. Indeed, frequent bilateral visits from either side at various levels will increase interactions which are likely to deepen and broaden bilateral relationship.
This apart, at the end of the day the results will count for each neighbor – how mutually beneficial relationship has been strengthened. In this sense, PM Deuba’s visit has been received with both some positivity and some reservations. The two prime ministers have stressed the strengthening of bilateral relationship on the basis of ‘mutual trust, goodwill, mutual benefit, with due regard to each other’s aspirations, sensitivities and interests’. This is the right spirit to move forward the relations between two nations. The implementation of the bilateral projects has often been characterized by long delays. If the result of the visit can accelerate the rate of progress in this regard, it would be a refreshing change. There are critics who see the need for improvement on the way things have been to realize the expression of goodwill. The two prime ministers also took note of the progress made by the Eminent Persons’ Group on Nepal-India Relations, hoping that things would work out well regarding the review of past bilateral treaties.
The joint statement covers a comprehensive area of bilateral relationship, including security concerns, resolving bottlenecks hampering ongoing projects, post-earthquake reconstruction, Indian assistance for the development of roads and power infrastructure, enhanced connectivity, cooperation in oil and gas sectors, harnessing of water resources, and boosting trade and investment. They have agreed to take initiatives in moving forward new projects and speeding up the completion of various ongoing projects in Nepal, including the finalization of the Detailed Project Report of the Pancheshwor Project within a month. A number of projects of bilateral cooperation have been taken up in the course of PM Deuba’s visit. But, for example, there are certain reservations expressed by many on the idea of constructing a high dam over the Saptkoshi River. All aspects of the proposed project should be studied in detail. Nepal and India need to have clearly defined objectives as to why they are in favour of such a mega project and how it benefits both, or what the implications are. PM Deuba’s extempo remark that he would make renewed efforts to amend the constitution to address the concerns of Madhesi parties has not been received well in Nepal. Did he really have to make that statement while in New Delhi? He could sure have done without.
Drink-driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. So far, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division has recommended the concerned transport management offices to suspend the license of more than 348 drivers who were found driving under the influence of alcohol for the sixth time. The traffic policemen punch a hole on the left corner of the license every time the drivers are found guilty of this offense. The crackdown on drink driving has been initiated by the traffic police since December 7, 2012 by slapping a fine of Rs. 1,000. The drunk drivers were also made to attend a 20 minute class on traffic safety.
According the figures made public by the traffic police, they have punched holes in 146,496 licenses since December of 2012. A total of 250,000 offenders have been fined since the ban on driving under the influence of alcohol. There is no law about the alcoholic limit permitted and, therefore, the police have adopted a zero tolerance policy against it. Those who have been drinking nominally are also penalized.
The Himalayan Times, August 28, 2017