Inland Waterways on the theme of “Cross-Border Inland Waterways: Exploring New Avenues of Connectivity”

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Venue: Yak and Yeti Hotel

Date: 1st October, 2018


Special Guest Remarks: H.E. Manjeev Singh Puri,  
Ambassador of India to Nepal

Special Address from Chief Guest: Hon’ble Mr. Barsha Man Pun, 
Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, GoN

Chair: Sunil KC
Founder/CEO, Asian Institute and Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA)


Mr. Madhav Belbase, 
Joint Secretary, Water and Energy Commission Secretariat

Ms. Dikshya Singh, 
Research Officer, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE)

Dr. Uttam Sinha, 
Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Mr. Saurya SJB Rana, 
President, Nepal India Chamber of Commerce (NICCI)

Honorable Mr. Dipak Gyawali, 
Former Minister of Water Resource, GoN

The Program

The program was scheduled to be started from 3:30 onwards. However, the formal program started at 4:15 after the arrival of the Minister of Energy, Water Resource and Irrigiation, Barshaman Pun. 

Manjeev Singh Puri gave the opening speech as a Special Guest Remarks regarding the prospect of inland transportation and its importance in strengthening the trade between India and Nepal. He mentioned about the large network length of river system, however, the navigable length neeed to be studied. A port shall be set up near Hanumannagar in the Koshi River System and the other near Bharatpur in the Gandak.

Barshaman Pun too mentioned the advantages of developing an inland transportation as a Special Address from the Chief Guest. Different routes linking Kolkata to places in Nepal that lies near Biratnagar and Birgunj customs were explained. Sunil K.C. (Chief Executive of AIDIA) thanked all the speakers and audience for their valuable time for the seminar. He presented the token of love to Puri and Pun before they left the hall.

Madhav Belbase presented his views regarding inland transportation through powerpoint presentation. He included both the pros and cons. He explained the difficulties in developing inland transportation as:

  • Minimum depth of 1.6m – 1.8m may not be available everywhere.
  • The clearance for vehicles may not be adequate at Bridge sites.

He explained about three alternatives in the Koshi as:

  • Way along the natural course.
  • Way through direct channel of 135km.
  • Way through canals that can be rehabilitated for navigation.

Dikshya Singh didn’t seem to be confident on what she delivered. She mentioned that she was not fully prepared on what she was going to deliver. I found explaining one’s weakness in front of the mass expecting something fruitful to be inappropriate. 

Dr. Uttam Sinha explained about constraints regarding the system. He explained about the market constraints. “The vehicle with goods from India need to return empty. Balanced traffic flow need to be prevalent for economical trade transit”, Sinha mentioned. The depth was the next constraint as Belbase stated.

Saurya SJB Rana briefly explained that, the inland waterways transportation would not be much more feasible from the business perspective. “The time of travel would be more and also the transfer of goods from one vehicle to the other seem to be tedious and expensive”, Rana mentioned.

Mr. Dipak Gyawali presented his views as per Engineer, Environmentalist and Political economist point of view. He explained that the project would not be a single purpose project. The project would be a multi purpose project where the still water would be a point of conflict for both the countries. He mentioned the moving water as a फाेसा that had been moving from the times of Rishis and Munis. The value of stored water is more than the moving water, Gyawali explained. The mode of transportation is environment friendly Gyawali stated as per environmentalist point of view. Stating that the road network length for movement of goods would be more than the number of kms. travelled through ships, Gyawali supported inland waterways being a political economist.

Questions/Answers and Open Floor Discussion

Questions were raised by the participants regarding Benefits to India , Bilateral and Trilateral Agreements and the disadvantages as per business point of view. Madhav Belbase, Uttam Sinha and Dipak Gyawali responded to the questions. The program ended formally after the distribution of token of love by Sunil K.C. to the panelists. The informal program of cocktail dinner started then.

Other Materials Regarding the Seminar

Nayapatrika Daily

Karobar Daily

The Himalayan Times

The Kathmandu Post



The Rising Nepal

Karobar Daily