New political map of Nepal includes all territories that Nepal claims

The government has endorsed an updated political map of Nepal that includes contested lands on the northwestern edge of the country, up to Limpiyadhura.

Minister for Land Management Padma Aryal had tabled the updated political map at Monday’s Cabinet meeting. The map was subsequently endorsed.

“Today’s Cabinet meeting endorsed the updated map of Nepal proposed by the Ministry of Land Management,” said Yubaraj Khatiwada, the government spokesperson, at a press briefing following the Cabinet meeting. “The new map includes Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani.”

Khatiwada, who is also the finance and communication minister, said that the updated map of the country will be used everywhere, including on textbooks, the government’s seal, and for all administrative works. The new map will likely be made public on Tuesday, said a member of Minister Aryal’s secretariat.

The endorsement of the new political map follows India’s inauguration of a road link via Lipulekh, a territory that Nepal has long claimed as its own.

“The government had been tolerating [the Indian encroachment] until India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the new road,” a minister told the Post on condition of anonymity. “We thought India was taking our calls for talks seriously but we felt nervous after the Indian Army chief made a controversial statement and decided to issue the new map.”
President Bidya Devi Bhandari, while announcing the government’s policies and programmes for the upcoming fiscal year on Friday, had said that a new political map would soon be issued.

At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had expressed serious reservations over a statement made on Friday by Indian Army Chief MM Naravane who had said Nepal’s objections to India laying the link road were “at the behest of someone else”.

Many in Kathmandu believe that he was alluding to China. Neither the Nepal Army nor the government has responded yet to Naravane.

The Oli government was under pressure from members of the public and leaders of the ruling as well as opposition parties to publish a new political map of Nepal after India on May 8 announced that it had inaugurated a road link via Lipulekh.

But there had been calls for a new Nepal map six months ago too, when India had included Kalapani, which Nepal also claims as its own, within its borders on its own new political map.

The disputed territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura have remained a permanent irritant in Nepal-India relations, but the issue emerges periodically when India conducts activities on the disputed lands.

News By Kathmandu Post, 18 May 2020

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