India announces $1 bn aid to rebuild Nepal

Kathmandu: India on Thursday announced $1 billion in aid to rebuild Nepal, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj saying that from "the debris of destruction a stronger united and more confident Nepal will rise".

The aid will be used in the reconstruction of physical infrastructure as well as some key heritage sites. India's contribution is almost one seventh of the total requirement of $6.7 billion.

India announces $1 bn aid to rebuild NepalExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the Donor's Conference in Kathmandu on Thursday. Pic/PTI

Nepal was hit by a massive 7.9-magnitude earthquake on April 25, leaving over 8,500 people dead and causing widespread devastation.

At the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction here, Sushma Swaraj said: "Nepal is not alone. Today I convey to you the deep and abiding commitment of the government of India and 1.25 billion people of India to stand shoulder to shoulder with you."

Referring to the operation India undertook to help Nepal, Sushma Swaraj said: "Operation Maitri was our largest ever disaster assistance effort abroad valued at nearly Rs.400 billion."

"...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."

She said: "From the debris of destruction a stronger united and more confident Nepal will rise."

Sushma Swaraj hailed Nepal's efforts in making a major bid to rebuild the nation and said raising $6.7 billion was a challenging task.

"As the oldest and closest friend, India is ready to stand with Nepal," she said.

"We can do so more meaningfully in areas where our expertise and Nepal's need match. These include agriculture, housing, roads and transport, electricity, health, education, cultural heritage, and disaster risk reduction."

Sushma Swaraj announced government of India's pledge for Nepal's post-earthquake reconstruction of "Nepali Rupees 10,000 crores, equivalent to $1 billion, one fourth of it as grant. This pledge is over and above our existing bilateral developmental assistance of another $1 billion over the next five years, 40 percent of which would be grant. This takes our total assistance to Nepal over the next five years to $2 billion".

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