Amish Raj Mulmi for The Print
In ‘All Roads Lead North’, Amish Raj Mulmi writes that the Gyirong–Kathmandu train has been in China-Nepal talks for over a decade. But who will it really help?
The Tatopani crossing in the east, similarly, opened up in October 2020 after several months of shutdown, but here, too, traders reported similar problems as in Rasuwa. The closure of the borders—despite the damage wrought by the pandemic and because of China’s insistence that Nepal had not established adequate screening procedures—once again highlighted the unequal nature of bilateral relations. Nepal was unable to convince China about its safety processes, and the latter ignored the fact that the Tatopani and the Rasuwa crossings had emerged as important trade routes for Nepali entrepreneurs and transporters in the aftermath of the 2015 Indian blockade.
Back in April 2019, however, these issues had not come to the forefront. At that time, when I visited Rasuwa, there was a newfound sense of importance attached to the Rasuwa crossing, especially because the Tatopani border was closed at the time. Those who drove goods back and forth from Gyirong [in Tibet] were a busy lot; several locals, including my driver Krishna, had invested in container trucks. Through a few enquiries, I finally met with Rajesh the evening before he was to leave for Gyirong.
Rajesh told me China’s border infrastructure was incredibly efficient.
‘There’s a two-lane road that easily allows two trucks to pass. They’ve built a proper highway with drains, walls and tunnels in sections where landslides are common.’ The train is yet to reach Gyirong, but labourers have told Rajesh it would come in two years. ‘No one talks about the train to Kathmandu in Gyirong,’ he said. Reports suggest the Shigatse–Gyirong line will be built by 2022.
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