Kathmandu: The Parliament of Nepal on Saturday passed the amendment to revise the country’s political map, laying claim over the strategically key areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along the border with India.
Two-thirds majority of the 275-member Lower House was required to pass the bill, which was endorsed through a consensus. The bill will now be sent to the National Assembly where it will undergo a similar process. The NA will have to give lawmakers 72 hours to move amendments against the bill’s provisions, if any.
After the National Assembly passes the bill, it will be submitted to the President for authentication, after which the bill will be incorporated in the Constitution.
The Nepali government had tabled the bill, seeking to modify the map of the country to include Indian territories of Limpiyadhura, Kapalpani and Lipulekh. The move was moved in the Parliament after the Nepali Congress said that it would vote in favour of the amendment.
However, some diplomats and experts have questioned the government’s move, saying the map has already been released and approved by the Cabinet and there was no need to form the task force.
Meanwhile, India had strongly reacted to the move by the Nepali government, saying that such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India. “It is environment of trust and confidence for dialogue. We note that this matter is receiving careful consideration in Nepal, taking its seriousness into account,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said earlier.
“Nepal is well aware of India’s consistent position on this matter and we urge the Government of Nepal to refrain from such unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it added.
Meanwhile, Army chief Gen MM Naravane on Saturday said the relationship between the two countries has always been strong and will remain so in the future. “We have a very strong relationship with Nepal. We have geographical, cultural, historical, religious linkages. We have very strong people-to-people connect. Our relation with them has always been strong and will remain strong in the future,” General Naravane said.
The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8. Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory.
The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory – India as part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Dharchula district.