Maoist pressure: Nepal scraps passport deal with India

Maoist pressure: Nepal scraps passport deal with India

After a cabinet meeting, Communication Minister and government spokesman Shanker Pokharel told reporters yesterday that the government has decided to withdraw the decision to print the passport in an Indian security press.

Nepal government had recently decided to award the contract of supplying MRP to Indian security press at a rate of USD 4 per copy through bilateral negotiations in order to get the ultra-modern passport printed as soon as possible after the International Civil Aviation Organisation asked it to halt issuance of hand written passports.

The decision to cancel the order came after Maoists announced general strike on Monday to oppose the government's plan to get the smart passports printed in Indian press.

As the government withdrew the decision to print the passport from India, the Maoists also withdrew their strike, the Maoist sources said.

Nepal's Supreme Court has also issued an Interim Order to halt the process of printing until it gave a full verdict in the matter.

The Public Accounts' Committee of the Parliament also asked the government to withdraw the decision to print the passport in Indian security press and to initiate fresh tender for the printing.

A Parliament Committee had summoned Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal this week to furnish clarification regarding the issue of the decision to award the contract to the Indian security press to supply the passports.

Responding to the Parliament committee's query the Prime Minister had said that the decision was taken to award the contract to India keeping in view diplomatic and political relations.

Nepal government has already missed the deadline of April 1 to issue the passports set by International Civil Aviation Organisation.

After missing the deadline, the government has made a request to the ICAO to extend the time and allow the issuance of hand written passport for the time being.

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