Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Kalapani villages omitted from Nepal census report, included in India's census report

The recently-released final report of the Nepalese census does not have data of the Kalapani area which included in a recent preliminary census report. Kalapani, is a 35 square kilometer area claimed by India and Nepal. The data is related to the Kuti, Gunji and Nabi villages of Kalapani. In the final report released on March 24, the data of these three Kalapani villages has been omitted. 

On May 20, 2020, Nepal released a new map of its own territory that expanded its claim an additional 335 square kilometres up to the Kuthi Yankti river, including Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura. The residents of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura were not counted after the 1961 Nepal census. The final census report of 2021 Nepal census did not included data of Kuti, Gunji and Nabi villages of the Kalapani area. These areas were included in the preliminary census report released in January 2022.

Nepal shares 1880 km long border with India and 1414 Km long border with Tibet; an autonomous region of Peoples Republic  of China. Accordaing to the Article 5, of Sugauli Treaty. concluded between East India Company and Nepal, the King of Nepal gave up his claims over the region west of the river Kali which originates in the high Himalayas. 

Both Nepal and India accept the Sugauli Treaty, according to which the Kali River forms the India-Nepal border in that region, the difference in perception is over the correct source of this river. Both India and Nepal lay claim over the Kalapani region. Under the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the areas falling east of Kali river were to belong to the Kingdom of Nepal and west of the river formed the Kumaon region of British India. The origin of the river, however, remained a matter of mutual discord. Nepal maintains that the headwaters lie in Limpiyadhura mountains, therefore, it makes a claim over the entire stretch downwards. India claims that the river originates from down south in Kalapani, therefore, the name Kali, and consequently, it is from here that the treaty applies. It considers this area as part of Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Nepal had so far claimed 35 square km of Kalapani area. However, it is now officially staking a claim on a 370 square km area comprising Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani. The politics of India-Nepal has national security implications.

British India conducted the first regular surveys of the upper reaches of the river Kali, in the 1870s. A map of 1879 vintage shows the whole Kalapani area as part of India . India has refuted Nepal ’s proposal that the map sketched by the British-Indian government in 1850 and 1856 should mark the basis for the origin of Mahakali river. India has pressed for the map sketched in 1879 and 1928/29 as a reference point.

In essence, these differences are situated in the differences in the maps possessed by both the countries. It is further complicated by the shifting course of the Mahakali river in the area that has been accepted as the boundary. A Joint Technical Boundary Committee (JILBC) was formed 18 years ago, which meets twice a year in Nepal and India consecutively to discuss this issue.

Since 1997 Nepal has been claiming that Kalapani, Pithoragarh district in the Kumaon Division of the Uttarakhand state was its territory although this territory is an area under Indian administration. From 1998, the joint technical committee of officials from India and Nepal have been discussing the issue. 

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