Nepal releases new political map showing Lipulekh and Kalapani as part of its territory
The Nepal government on Wednesday unveiled a new political map of the country that depicts Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepalese territory amid a diplomatic row with India.
The move came little more than six months after India published new maps of the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh that showed Kalapani as part of Uttarakhand state.
The new map was released by land management minister Padma Kumari Aryal at a function in Kathmandu attended by political leaders and officials. The three territories were shown as part of Byas rural municipality in Darchula district of Sudurpaschim province.
Aryal said she hoped India will take Nepal’s decision to publish the new map in a “positive way”.
There was no immediate reaction from Indian officials.
Nepal’s council of ministers had approved the map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepalese territory during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Monday.
“The map will come into use immediately…The areas of Gunji, Navi and Kuti, near Kalapani, which had been left out in earlier maps, are also included in the new map,” Aryal was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post.
Unnamed Nepalese officials were quoted by the Post as saying that the country’s total area has increased from 147,181 sq km to 147,516 sq km after the addition of “disputed land that is currently occupied by India”.
The diplomatic row began on May 8 after defence minister Rajnath Singh opened an 80-km road that ends at Lipulekh Pass on the border with China. The road was built so that pilgrims going to Kailash-Mansarovar in the Tibet Autonomous Region can avoid dangerous high-altitude routes through Sikkim and Nepal.
Nepal’s foreign ministry summoned the Indian envoy last week to protest against the construction of the road. New Delhi has rejected Kathmandu’s protest, saying the Lipulekh region is “completely within the territory of India” and that both sides could resolve such boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue.
While addressing Nepal’s Parliament on Tuesday, Oli said the decision to include the three territories in the map of Nepal was made after India inaugurated “a road link through Nepali territory”. He also contended that people coming from India “through illegal channels” were spreading the Coronavirus in Nepal.
India and Nepal share a 1,800-km open border. Nepal claims all territories east of the Kali river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh, under the Treaty of Sugauli that it signed with the erstwhile British administration in 1816.