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CPN-Maoist to oppose Nepal government's power pact with India

KATHMANDU, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Amidst government's preparation to sign a major power trading agreement (PTA) with India shortly, Nepal's hardliner CPN-Maoist party decided on Tuesday to protest against it, a party official said Wednesday.

A group of five parties headed by CPN-Maoist holding a meeting in Kathmandu concluded that the planned PTA is an utter intervention in Nepal's sovereignty by the India government as well as anti-nationalist.

The meeting also has decided to launch protest if the plan to sign the agreement is not canceled.

The group of the parties announced its decision on the eve of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's three-day official visit to Kathmandu from July 25. She is scheduled to lead the Indian delegation at the 3rd Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting to be held on July 26-27.

The Nepalese government has been planning to sign the PTA during the meeting.

The Himalayan country has long pled India to sign the PTA, which will allow hydro-electricity powered Nepal to export its surplus energy to its southern neighbor during the wet season and import power during the dry season.

"This contract in the name of PTA will hurt Nepal's sovereignty, " Dev Gurung, secretary of CPN-Maoist, told Xinhua, "This is an attempt of the current government to hand over controversial projects like Upper Karnali and Upper Arun to India one-sidedly."

Upper Karnali and Arun-3, both having 900 MW capacity and being developed by Indian power developers, are two of the most controversial hydropower projects in Nepal since 1990.

He also said his party was forced to start the agitation against the government's lack of far-sightedness.

A week ago, the Indian government sent Nepal a draft of PTA, which has drawn criticisms from all stakeholders, according to whom the draft has sought Indian supremacy over Nepal's water resources.

Following that, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has clarified the issue by releasing a press statement. "In no way does the draft constrain Nepal's sovereign right to develop its hydropower potential," the statement said.

Gurung also said the Indian government intends to dominate in the issues such as Nepal's water, hydropower and other issues of national interest through the PTA draft.

In a press release Tuesday, the CPN-Maoist also demanded the government to achieve national consensus while signing any major agreements.

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