KP Sharma Oli.
KP Sharma Oli.File image

The Nepalese government has decided to conduct a census in Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani areas of Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand. The development has come days after, the KP Sharma Oli-led government published a map showing these areas in Nepal. These maps were later shown in the Nepalese school books and coins as well. The census is scheduled to take place in May 2021.

Officials of Nepal's National Planning Commission and its Central Statistics Bureau say that these three areas are part of its country. Therefore, next year's census will also be done in these areas. They also allege that India has forcibly occupied these three areas. At the same time, the law officers of the Survey Department and the former Director Generals say that it is impossible to conduct such a survey because India will never allow the Nepalese authorities to enter those parts.

"Even if any such a plan was there, it can never materialize as no Nepalese team will be allowed to enter the area for such an exercise," The Times of India reported quoting one of the district administration officials in Pithoragarh.

Disputed map was passed by the Nepali parliament on June 13.

China Nepal border
A road in the outskirts of Kathmandu that leads to the Chinese border of KerungReuters

It is to be noted that Nepal had introduced a new map in the cabinet on 20 May in the midst of a border dispute with India that was approved by the Nepali Parliament's House of Representatives on 13 June. It features Kalapani, Lipu Lekh, and Limpiyadhura of India as part of Nepal. At the same time, India also handed over a diplomatic note to Nepal to oppose it. Apart from this, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had also described the new map of Nepal as tampering with historical facts.

Border issue between India and Nepal

India and Nepal have boundary conflicts across two distinct sections of their 1,800-km porous frontier including Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulekh. Given the strategic importance, the Kalapani region is a sore point. As per, Nepalese claims, Kalapani falls in Sudurpashchim Pradesh, its Darchula city. The reason behind this sudden revival of border dispute inauguration of 80-kilometer-long blacktop road in Uttarakhand.

Xi Jinping speaks at the BRICS Summit
China's President Xi Jinping speaks at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa,REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Chinese interference

In recent times, China has emerged as the biggest FDI contributor in Nepal with a share of over 90% of total foreign investments received by Kathmandu. China also committed more than $ 8.5 billion to Nepal for 27 infrastructure projects. The latest development can't be understood in isolation as China has been covertly involved in Nepal's decision making recently.