Nepal seeks permit to conduct census in villages near border
Authorities in Nepal have sought permission from Indian officials to send a team to conduct a population census in Chhangru and Tinkar villages near the Indo-Nepal border, the route to which goes through Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand, officials familiar with the matter said.
The development came during a meeting between the officials of Pithoragarh district and Nepal’s Darchula district across the international border on Saturday evening. The meeting was held a day after former Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that “if voted to power, his party’s government will take back the areas of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani in Pithoragarh district through dialogue with India.”
Ashish Chauhan, the district magistrate of Pithoragarhm, who was among officials from the Indian side, said, “The Nepalese side had sought the permission during the meeting as the route to the two villages in their area goes through India. They have sought permission before also to conduct the population census amid their ongoing national census. We informed them that the communication has been done with the top-level on same, and as soon as they give their nod for it, we will intimate them accordingly.”
Informing about the officials who were in attendance during the meeting, Chauhan said, “Apart from me, the chief development officer of Pithoragarh Anuradha Pal, additional district magistrate PR Chauhan, sub-divisional magistrate of Dharchula, divisional forest officer and executive engineer of the irrigation Dharchula division were present from the Indian side. While from Nepal’s Darchula district, chief district officer Siddhraj Joshi, deputy inspector general, Nepal Armed Police Narendra Bam, 10 other officials attended meeting.”
Chauhan further said that “Both sides also agreed to work in utmost coordination in case of a flood-like situation in Kali river, which separates Pithoragarh and Darchula at border.”
Nepal raked up the border issue in Pithoragarh district earlier this month by claiming three villages in the Kalapani area were in its territory, again raising an issue that reared its head last year when Kathmandu published a new map showing India’s Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limipiyadhura as part of its territory.
Nebin Lal Shresth, director-general of Central Bureau of Statistics of Nepal responsible for the census, said while speaking to a leading Nepalese daily on November 10: “The three villages are under Nepal’s territory but has a presence of Indian armed forces. Hence, there has to be an appropriate solution at government level so that our team can go there for the population census.”