Deal boundary issues keeping national interests at core: PMPrime Minister KP Sharma Oli has instructed senior officials to keep historical facts, boundary maps and national interests at core while dealing with boundary issues with India.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has instructed senior officials to keep historical facts, boundary maps and national interests at core while dealing with boundary issues with India.
The PM’s instruction came on Thursday ahead of the fifth meeting of the Nepal-India Boundary Working Group (BWG) at the Survey General Level slated for next week in Kathmandu.
The Department of Survey Director General, and leader of the Nepali delegation for the three-day meeting Ganesh Bhatta had apprised PM Oli, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, heads of security agencies and several government secretaries on the progress made after the last meeting on boundary demarcation at the Nepal-India border. He also briefed them on installation of border pillars, status of Nepal-India boundary, issue of cross holding at various border points and agenda for the upcoming meeting.
The bilateral panel is mandated with construction, restoration and repairs of boundary pillars as well as works related to the clearance of no-man’s land and GPS observation of boundary pillars.
To complete the boundary field works, both sides have deputed four technical teams to expedite the remaining works. Under the BWG, two technical teams—Survey Officials’ Committee (SOC) and Joint Field Survey Teams (FST)—have been constituted to look after technical issues.
To fix the boundary pillar, both sides use internationally accepted positioning system. Both use Nepal–India Boundary Global Navigation Satellite System (NIB GNSS).
Nepal has old map of Sugulai Treaty, new modern strip maps signed in 2007, past accords and agreements with Indian sides and some historical facts for boundary negotiations with India. Bhatta and his team had briefed the PM and senior officials that boundary is a complicated issue because of missing border pillars, course changes by rivers at various points of Nepal–India border and the issue of cross holdings of properties at various places on both sides of the border by local residents.
As per the available historic facts and maps, they should make the primary basis to resolve the bilateral boundary, the PM said.
“While keeping national interest at core, the PM instructed officials to resolve the boundary issue with India,” Foreign Minister Gyawali told reporters after the meeting.
Out of 8,554 border pillars, a technical team of Nepal and India has installed more than 6,000 pillars after consensus in the last four years.
In 2014, the BWG had announced to complete the task of installing all border pillars with GPS facilities, clearance of no-man’s land, resolving the issue of cross holding of properties by residents on either side of the border apart from the disputed Susta and Kalapani. Due to various technical glitches, lack of adequate budget and other problems, the BWG had reset its target to resolve all boundary issues apart from Susta and Kalapani by 2021.
“Both sides are collecting data of cross holding of properties by local residents. Once we gather all data, then we will discuss and sort them out. Residents from both sides are cultivating lands on either side due to proximity of the borders and due to the process of demarcation, has complicated the matter,” said Bhatta.
Both sides have based the new 182-sheets of modern strip maps while installing border pillars and clearing the no-man’s land. This map was signed at the Survey General Level in 2007 in Dehradun, India apart from Susta and Kalapani. As per the new strip maps, all new border pillars have GPS tracking facilities and in case of missing or swept away by river, the location of the missing pillars can be easily tracked.
The PM instructed officials to maintain status quo on disputed areas if they arise during negotiations as well as allow residents to cultivate land until the final settlement of issue of cross holding of properties.
The PM told the Nepali team to take the help of local bodies and security agencies of both sides while fixing and resolving the installation of border pillars as well as clearing the no-man’s land.