India to donate $1 billion to Nepal

India on Thursday pledged $1 billion in assistance to quake-ravaged Nepal for its massive reconstruction programme, asserting that it will strongly stand behind the Nepalese government which is seeking help to “wipe the tears” of every Nepali. 

By TT Bureau in Kathmandu
  • Published 25.06.15
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Kathmandu, Jun 25 (PTI): India on Thursday pledged $1 billion in assistance to quake-ravaged Nepal for its massive reconstruction programme, asserting that it will strongly stand behind the Nepalese government which is seeking help to “wipe the tears” of every Nepali. 

The announcement was made by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during an international donors' conference here. Swaraj hoped that a “stronger, united and more confident Nepal will rise” from the debris of destruction.

She said one fourth of the $1 billion assistance will be grant and it will be over and above India's existing bilateral developmental assistance of another $1 billion over the next five years which takes the total assistance to $2 billion.

Swaraj conveyed India's “deep and abiding commitment” to rebuilding of Nepal and highlighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured a prompt rescue and relief operation within six hours of the 7.9 magnitude April 25 quake.

”Today I convey to you the deep and abiding commitment of the Government and 1.25 billion people of India and the personal commitment of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you seek to wipe the tears of every Nepali,” Swaraj said.

”We reacted as if a disaster had struck India,” Swaraj said.

The International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction has been organised by the Nepalese government to raise funds for rebuilding the country devastated by a powerful earthquake that struck on April 25, killing about 9,000 people and injuring around 23,000 others besides flattening over five lakh houses.

”I am happy to announce Government of India's pledge for Nepal's post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepali Rupees 10,000 crores, equivalent to one billion US dollars, one fourth of it as Grant,” Swaraj said.

The conference was attended by several countries like China, Britain, Norway, Japan, Sri Lanka, the European Union besides the UN, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

”I salute the resilience of the people of Nepal and reassure you of India's full support. The terrible disaster and continuing aftershocks have not diminished the indomitable spirit of the Nepalese people. They are calm and dignified in their tragedy,” Swaraj said.

”I see a quiet confidence and a steely determination as they seek to rebuild their lives and their communities. Every challenge is an opportunity. Out of adversity comes strength. Without doubt, from the debris of destruction, a stronger, united and more confident Nepal will rise,” Swaraj said.

The External Affairs Minister said India's response was ”swift, spontaneous and substantive” as its rescue teams arrived in Nepal within six hours of the earthquake.

”Operation Maitri was our largest ever disaster assistance effort abroad, valued at nearly four billion Indian Rupees. But what is important is not that this support was larger than other foreign countries; what matters is the strong feeling of empathy and the instantaneous, instinctive and heart-felt response from Indians for their Nepali brothers and sisters,” Swaraj said.

Observing that Nepal's challenge would be to ensure efficient and transparent utilisation of the funds, Swaraj said India would continue to work closely with the Nepalese government.

She also congratulated the National Planning Commission of Nepal for their comprehensive recovery needs assessment, prepared in collaboration with more than 200 international experts.

”The Post Disaster Needs Assessment has been a participatory and credible international effort, to which India was privileged to contribute. It will be the framework for donors to finalise their relief packages and pledges,” she said.

The PDNA report estimates huge reconstruction needs of $6.7 billion.

Noting that the two visits of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal have given a significant impetus to bilateral cooperation, Swaraj said, “Hydropower projects now need to be speedily implemented and work on construction of the Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track road and the Nijgadh airport with India's participation should be expedited.”

These projects will create new job opportunities, contribute to revenue, and facilitate long-term recovery,” she said.

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