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India, Nepal to ink petroleum pipeline deal on Monday

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Credit: www.ndtv.com

Kathmandu: The much awaited Nepal-India petroleum pipeline project is set to take-off with the signing here on Monday of an MoU for construction of the 41-km Amlekhgunj-Raxaul petroleum pipeline with Indian assistance.

Nepal’s Minister for Commerce and Supplies Sunil Bahadur Thapa and Indian Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan will sign the framework agreement in this regard. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to be signed between the two neighbouring countries, is about constructing a petroleum products pipeline from Raxaul (India) to Amlekhgunj (Nepal) and re-engineering of Amlekhgunj Depot and allied facilities.

Nepal’s ministry of commerce and supplies said the MoU would promote bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sector and secure long-term supply of petroleum products to Nepal. Pradhan arrived here on Sunday for the signing of the MoU.

Credit: www.nepalmountainnews.com
Credit: www.nepalmountainnews.com

“It will further help to promote existing close and friendly relations between the two countries and their people. It would help save transportation cost, reduce leakage, and unhindered supply of petroleum products,” it said. The MoU will promote bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sector and secure long-term supply of petroleum products to Nepal. It would help preserve the environment along the route and de-congest the international border at Raxaul, the Indian embassy here said in a release.

Nepal had requested India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country on August 3-4, last year, for construction of this petroleum products pipeline. Bearing in mind the close and friendly relations between the two nations and their people, this was agreed to by the Indian government. On behalf of the Indian government, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has been entrusted with the job to construct the pipeline and for re-engineering of the Amlekhgunj Depot and allied facilities.

The project will be completed in two phases. In the first phase, a petroleum products pipeline from Raxaul in India to Amlekhgunj in Nepal would be constructed.  The IOC will bear an expense of INR 200 crore for the first phase of the project. There will be a long-term contract of 15 years (initial contract for five years extendible for two terms of five years each) between IOC and the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) the state-owned petroleum supply monopoly.

The NOC will also contribute INR 75 crore for re-engineering the Amlekhgunj Depot. Thirty-nine kilometres of the proposed cross-border petroleum pipeline lies in Indian territory and the remaining two kilometres in Nepal.

(IANS)

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India Aborts Launch of Spacecraft Intended to Land on Far Side of Moon

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher

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India, Spacecraft, Moon
A spectator holds an Indian flag after a mission of Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-2, with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on board was called back because of a technical snag in Sriharikota, India, July 15, 2019. VOA

India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher, Indian Space Research Organization spokesman B.R. Guruprasad said.

The countdown abruptly stopped at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds, and Guruprasad said that the agency would announce a revised launch date soon.

Chandrayaan, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, is designed for a soft landing on the lunar south pole and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
FILE – Indian space scientist and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization Kailasavadivoo Sivan speaks during a press conference at the ISRO headquarters Antariksh Bhavan, in Bangalore, June 12, 2019. VOA

With nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the ardently nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology. If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the U.S., Russia and China.

Dr. K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said at a news conference last week that the estimated $140 million Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s “most prestigious” to date, in part because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface, an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”

After countdown commenced Sunday, Sivan visited two Hindu shrines to pray for the mission’s success.

Criticized program pays off

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Practically since its inception in 1962, India’s space program has been criticized as inappropriate for an overpopulated, developing nation.

But decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting fish migration to predicting storms and floods.

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this month, the world’s biggest space agencies are returning their gaze to the moon, seen as ideal testing grounds for technologies required for deep space exploration, and, with the confirmed discovery of water, as a possible pit stop along the way.

“The moon is sort of our backyard for training to go to Mars,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA’s chief engineer responsible for its 2020 mission to Mars.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff. Pixabay

Seeking water on the moon

Because of repeated delays, India missed the chance to achieve the first soft landing near the lunar south pole. China’s Chang’e 4 mission landed a lander and rover there last January.

India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water. The Indian Space Research Organization wants its new mission’s rover to further probe the far side of the moon, where scientists believe a basin contains water-ice that could help humans do more than plant flags on future manned missions.

The U.S. is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.

Also Read- Around 53% People Interested in Travelling to Space: Survey

Modi has set a deadline of 2022 for India’s first manned spaceflight. (VOA)