Indo-Nepal Economic : Cooperation and its Impact on Terai
Indo-Nepal Economic Cooperation and its Impact on Terai
–By Hari Bansh Jha
Centre for Economic and Technical Studies
Paper submitted to a Workshop on“Bonds Beyond Borders”organized by Consulate General of India in cooperation withB.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation (BPKF) May 27-28, 2006 Birgunj
Nepal’s importance is recognized not merely for its size and natural resources but largely due to its strategic location as a buffer state between two Asian powers, India and China. The country is divided into three ecological regions – the Terai, hills and the mountain. Of these three regions, the Terai, the flat land, covers Nepal’s 23 per cent of the total land area of 147,181 sq. kms. The normal length of Terai is 800 kms; while its width varies between 25 to 32 kms.
The boundary of the Terai starts from the foothills of the Siwalik or Churiya range of the Himalayas in the north and goes upto the Indian border in the south. However, the region called Bhitri Madhesh (inner Terai) consisting of flat land north of Siwalik or Churiya range like Chitwan and Dang Deukhari is also a part of the Terai. Of Nepal’s 75 districts, 20 districts are in the Terai, which from east to west include Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur.
Terai accounts for 56 per cent of total arable land (GON, 2003) and 67 per cent of total manufacturing production (GON, 1991-92). The region is also rich in forest, water and other resources. However, the abundance in the Terai is only for a few as the people outside the region hold control over most of the resources of this land. As such, the majority of the local population is poor. In order to create infrastructural facilities and help eliminate the poverty in the region, a number of bilateral and multilateral organizations, apart from INGOs have made interventions.
The United Sates was the first few countries that started giving aid to the Terai region of Nepal through USAID (originally known as the U.S. Operations Mission or USOM) in 1950s. Rapti Valley Development was USAID’s major project in 1950s, which focused on equitable land distribution, local participation in self-help projects, improved farming methods, malaria eradication and improved health services, road and market development, and cooperative societies for agricultural inputs and marketing (Skerry et al, 1991). It also provided support through technical advisors and funding for a cadastral survey covering 20 Terai districts. Later on, different bilateral and multilateral bodies and also INGOs, including India, the then USSR, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, the World Bank, the UN agencies, Save the Children Japan, Save the Children US, ACTION AID/Nepal, CARE, DFID and Plan Nepal made their presence felt in the Terai by launching one or the other projects.
Yet of all kinds of aid and assistance made available to the Terai by different bilateral/multilateral agencies and the INGOs, the Indian cooperation has been most crucial to the development of this region. It is important both in terms of volume of amount and its proper utilization for the execution of different projects. No other agency in Nepal is as serious for the development of the region as a whole as India is. While the activities of other agencies are confined to certain pockets, the Indian cooperation widely covers the entire part of the Terai.
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Entry filed under: Reports.