India-Nepal strip maps raise questions over unresolved disputes
(26 January 2009)Nepal’s Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav has come under criticism after announcing that strip maps of the India-Nepal boundary were complete except for those around two disputed areas. Yadav's comments have been interpreted as claiming that the boundary with India was completely resolved with the exception of disputed claims in the areas of Susta in Nawalparasi and Kalapani in Darchula which were excluded from the strip maps. However, a group of Nepalese lawmakers have argued that there are some 54 boundary disagreements with India still outstanding. Regarding the Kalapani issue, the parliamentary Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee in Nepal was told on 23 January 2009 that India and Nepal have not resolved the location of the source of the River Kali, leaving a 35 sq km disputed area in the Kalapani region. Both governments have agreed to maintain the status quo until an official solution has been achieved. In addition, reports also suggest that Nepal's home minister Bam Dev Gautam has engaged a visiting Chinese delegation for their participation in settling the dispute through tripartite talks. The unresolved source of the Kali river would serve as the tripoint with the China-India and China-Nepal boundaries.
In 1981 the Nepal-India Border Joint Technical Committee was formed to resolve any disputes over the international boundary and to maintain boundary pillars. The committee prepared strip maps along 1240-km of land boundary and 640-km of river boundary in 2007. However, differences of opinion have emerged particularly regarding implementation of the 1816 Sugauli Treaty.
These latest reports follow a meeting last November between Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda in Kathmandu. India’s external affairs secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, the Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood and other officials of the eleven member delegation also met with Prime Minister Prachanda on the second day of their three-day visit to discuss wide-ranging bilateral issues.
Sources: ‘Nepal-India strip maps prepared’, Xinhua News Agency, 24 January 2009; ‘Nepal minister says "voices" must be raised about border disputes with China’, BBC Monitoring South Asia, 24 January 2009; ‘FM Yadav under fire over border issues remark’ Kantipur Report (eKantipur online), 23 January 2009; ‘Pranab says new Indo-Nepal border soon’, The Times of India, 26 November 2008.