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India, Nepal lift ban on carrying INR 500 and 1,000 notes

Kathmandu : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal has been marked by a step that would bring a significant benefit to travellers between India and Nepal. According to a PTI report, the two countries on Tuesday lifted the decade-long ban on carrying of Indian bank notes of denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 by their nationals while visiting each other’s countries to a ceiling of Rs 25,000 for these two high denomination currencies. "We have decided to allow our nationals to carry Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes up to the limit of Rs 25,000," Modi announced in Kathmandu. The Prime Minister who arrived in the Nepal capital during the day is on a three-day visit to attend the SAARC summit. Indian bank notes above Rs 100 were banned in Nepal on India's request as it feared that proliferation of fake currency in high denominations were infiltrating the country. But, tourists unaware of the restriction were often in for a nasty surprise at the international border. 

Showing India's commitment to strengthening ties, Narendra Modi handed over to Nepal an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) which will be used for military operations. "This will add to Nepal's shield of protection," he said. The Dhruv Mark 3 is manufactured by state-owned aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. As a symbol of shared Buddhist heritage, the Prime Minister gifted a sacred Bodhi tree sapling to be planted in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha. "I have brought a sapling from Bodh Gaya which will be planted by our Ambassador in Lumbini," Modi said while inaugurating a trauma centre built by India at Kathmandu's Bir Hospital. The sapling would be planted on the premises of Maya Devi temple in Lumbini on November 28. The Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, is the exact place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment 2,600 years ago and became the Lord Buddha. 

On the political front, the Prime Minister made a strong pitch for the early drafting of Nepal's constitution, saying if the country fails to do so it may get into "difficulties". “I request all political stakeholders to draft the Constitution by early next year as committed through consensus which will reflect aspirations of all communities, including Madhesis, Pahadis and Maoists...failing to do so can cause difficulties to Nepal and your difficulty despite our expertise to help you in this field is a matter of sadness," Modi said after inaugurating the trauma centre built by India at Kathmandu's Bir Hospital. He said India will not like to interfere but having expertise and not being able to help Nepal from getting into difficulty will be sad. Modi's remarks came after Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala expressed confidence that Nepal will be able to draft its constitution by early next year. 

The 200-bedded trauma centre inaugurated by Modi during the day is a Rs 1.5 billion project of the Indian government. The centre will have 150 beds in the trauma ward, six operation theatres, 14 ICUs, eight resuscitation rooms and beds for emergency observation, 10 examination cubicles in the outpatient department and a triage area. The foundation of the centre was laid by former Prime Minister I K Gujral in 1997. Noting that a lot of decisions have made progress since his last visit in August this year, Modi said that Nepal's happiness and satisfaction on implementation of these projects gives India a reason to smile. 

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