Prachanda gets China NGO help for Lumbini

Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda signed the much trumpeted $3 billion Lumbini development project with Asia Pacific Exchange Cooperation Foundation, a Chinese outfit, claiming it will elevate Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, to a world-class city attracting tourists and pilgrims from across the world.

The agreement was signed by Linus Xiao Wunan, Executive Vice Chairman of APEC foundation and Prachanda in his capacity as the Chairman of the high-powered steering committee appointed by the Government of Nepal. But members of the non-Maoist political parties in the committee challenged his right to sign the project without keeping the body informed.

"The issue was not discussed in the committee, and it has not authorised Prachanda to sign it in the manner he did," Minendra Rizal, former Minister for Culture and a Nepali Congress leader said.

"This project has enormous potential and will benefit Nepal, India and China and I have spoken to Indian authorities and they are positive about the project," Prachanda said during the signing ceremony. He, however, did not disclose what the project entails, its total cost, and the time needed to complete it.

Prachanda among the nine Vice-Chairs of APEC foundation last year had announced that the project will be executed soon. But he had to backtrack following protest from Nepali authorities, especially the way the government was bypassed in the deal. Subsequently, PM Baburam Bhattarai appointed a high-level steering committee with Prachanda as its Chairman to explore Lumbini's development.

Prachanda claimed he had discussed with the UN and other authorities, and all including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon were supportive of the project.

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