Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Nepal to attend the SAARC summit next week, the Union Cabinet today cleared three key framework agreements with member-countries to enhance rail and road connectivity and setting up of a regional power grid.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Nepal for strengthening cooperation in the field of tourism was also given a green signal by the Cabinet.
The memorandum is proposed to be signed during Modi's visit to Nepal beginning November 25.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after the meeting that the Cabinet approved signing of "SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity)" among the member-states during the 18th SAARC summit scheduled to be held at Kathmandu on November 26-27.
"The agreement will enable greater cooperation in the power sector among SAARC countries. It is expected to improve the power availability in the entire SAARC region. It would facilitate integrated operation of the regional power grid," he said.
In another decision related to SAARC, the Cabinet approved the signing and ratifying the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement.
It also approved the signing of a bilateral agreement for the regulation of passenger traffic between India and Nepal on the sidelines of the SAARC summit.
The Cabinet has also authorised the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to sign similar bilateral agreements and protocols with other SAARC member-states, an official statement said.
The agreement on motor vehicles provides for the member- states allowing their vehicles to ply in their territories for transportation of cargo and passengers subject to various terms and conditions.
The agreement once signed will result in closer regional economic cooperation and integration through enhanced regional connectivity by allowing movement of goods and passengers in the region through road transport, the statement said.
The signing and ratification of the SAARC Regional Railways Agreement by India was also cleared.
It will strengthen transport connectivity in SAARC region. Strengthened rail and transport connectivity will not only provide stimulus to the economic development in the region as a whole but also promote social and cultural contact and encourage tourism amongst the member-countries, said another statement.
The Regional Rail Agreement will also enable low-cost, energy efficient and environmentally-sustainable transportation in the SAARC region and provide trade and economic links for land-locked countries and semi-isolated regions.
On bilateral front, the MoU on tourism with Nepal would help India increase foreign tourist arrivals from Nepal to the country. This in turn will result in economic development and employment generation.
The cabinet also passed a resolution moved by Home Minister Rajnath Singh congratulating Modi on his "successful" visits to Myanmar, Australia and Fiji.
Referring to the resolution, Prasad said the cabinet welcomed the successful visit. "All issues placed by the PM in G-20 were a matter of discussion in the summit. Under his leadership, the Indian diplomacy has been successful," Prasad said.