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Nepal-India oil pipeline moving ahead with forest clearance okayed

ANI | Updated: Jan 27, 2019 16:59 IST

Kathmandu (Nepal), Jan 27 (ANI): The stalled Nepal-India petroleum pipeline has been expedited with the Nepal government okaying forest clearance for the project, which is now expected to be completed by April-end, said a Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) official.
The state-owned NOC received the Cabinet’s go-ahead to cut trees that lie along the nine kilometre Pathlaiya-Amlekhgunj section of the project.
A Cabinet meeting on January 17 decided to allow the project to cut down around 80,000 trees in the section of Pathlaiya-Amlekhgunj forest route. Of the trees set to be cut down, 6,533 are big trees, an official of the corporation told Kathmandu Post.

The Timber Corporation of Nepal, which has been assigned the task of cutting the trees, was issued a 30-day notice last Tuesday.
The 69 km-long pipeline stretches from Amlekhgunj in Nepal to Motihari in India. Pipe laying works on a nine-km stretch in Nepal had stalled due to the forest clearance issue.
“If the project is expedited, it can be completed within two months,” said the Nepal Oil Corporation official. Initially, NOC had aimed to begin commercial operations of the pipeline by March. “However, due to the delay in forest clearance, it has been pushed back by a month to April-end.”
The pipeline project started on March 9 last year. The ground-breaking of the pipeline project took place more than two decades after the first discussion on the project was held between Nepal and India.
Indian Oil Corporation had proposed construction of a cross-border pipeline in 1995 and signed a memorandum of understanding with NOC at the junior executive level a year later. In 2004, the two sides upgraded the agreement to the chief executive level. However, due to a number of legal hurdles, the project failed to take off.
Indian construction company Likhiya Infrastructures has been awarded the pipeline construction project with the completion deadline of 15 months. Simlesh Limited of Maharashtra, India, is manufacturing the steel pipes being used in the project.
Moti Prabha Infra Tech, another Indian company based in Faridabad, has been upgrading four vertical fuel storage tanks at the Amlekhgunj depot of NOC. These tanks have a combined storage capacity of 13,400 kilolitres. Two of the tanks can hold 3,900 kilolitres each and the other two tanks can hold 1,500 kilolitres and 4,100 kilolitres respectively, said the daily.
Around 200,000-litre diesel can be imported in an hour upon completion of the project. This would also reduce the transportation and leakage costs, which total over Rs 1 billion.
Almost 70 per cent of pipe-laying works of the cross-border pipeline have been completed along the Nepal side, but the pipe-laying works along almost 10-km area that falls within the Parsa Wildlife Reserve and a few other community forests had been halted due to lack of government permission to cut down trees.
The fuel pumping facilities will be located in Motihari, India. NOC plans to conduct a trial of the project by supplying diesel in the first phase.
Nepal and India have invested Indian Rupees 2.75 billion for the project of which the Indian Government is investing Rs 2 billion while the remaining amount will be invested by Nepal. (ANI)