Context: The new political map of India, recently released by the government has included Kalapani into the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
- While Nepal has formally protested over the issue, India claims Kalapani as part of Uttarakhand
- The Nepal government described India’s decision as “unilateral” and claimed that it will “defend its international border”.
- Indian stand is that the map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India.
- Kalapaniis a territory disputed between India and Nepal, but under Indian administration as part of Pithoragarh district in the Uttarakhand
- Mapped within Uttarakhand Kalapani is a 372-sq km area bordering far-west Nepal and Tibet
- It is marked by the Kalapani river, one of the headwaters of the Kali River in the Himalayas at an altitude of 3600 meters.
- The valley of the Kalapani forms the Indian route toKailash -Manasarovar, an ancient pilgrimage site.
- Althoughclaimed by Nepal as part of Darchula District, Kalapani is controlled by India’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police since the1962 border war with China
- Nepal’s western boundary with India was marked out in the Treaty of Sugauli between the East India Company and Nepal in 1816
- The source of the dispute comes from the ambiguity around where the Mahakali River (which runs through the Kalapani region) originates.
- Under the treaty of Sugaulithe Kali River was located as Nepal’s western boundary with India. It, however, made no mention of a ridgeline and subsequent maps of the areas drawn by British surveyors showed the source of the Kali River at different places.
- This discrepancy has led to the boundary disputes between India and Nepal, with each country producing maps including the territory in their own area to support their claims.
- Nepali authorities claim that people living in the low-density area were included in the Census of Nepal until 58 years ago.
- The territory holds strategic military significance, serving as a meeting point for India, Nepal and China.
- We need to find a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations.