Nepal calls for joint inspection of disputed Mahakali siteGovernment sent a diplomatic note to India after tensions in Darchula over India’s unilateral construction of embankment on Mahakali.
Two days after scuffles broke out between Nepali and Indian citizens in Darchula district over India’s unilateral construction of an embankment on the Mahakali river, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday sent a diplomatic note to the government of India for joint inspection of the site of dispute.
Sewa Lamsal, spokesperson at the foreign ministry, confirmed to the Post that a diplomatic note had been sent on Wednesday afternoon through the Embassy of India. “The note mentions the report received from the ground through the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as the details of incidents on the border on Sunday and Monday,” said Lamsal, adding, “We have called for a joint inspection of the disputed sites.”
Nepal government, in the note, has also asked India to stop embankment-construction in the disputed area and ensure that such constructions are not carried out in the future, officials privy to the matter told the Post.
Tension ran high on Sunday at the Nepal-India border in Khalanga of Darchula after Nepali and Indian citizens chanted slogans and pelted stones at each other over India’s embanking of the Mahakali river. At least four Nepali nationals including one minor were injured after being hit by stones hurled from the Indian side across the river. On Sunday, Darchula locals had also staged demonstrations in Khalanga protesting the Indian construction.
“The situation is normal today,” chief district officer Dirgharaj Upadhyaya told the Post on Tuesday, adding that the Indian side has stopped construction at the disputed site after talks between Nepali and Indian officials on Sunday and Monday.
Locals say India’s embankment-building has been pushing the Mahakali further into Nepal, permanently changing the river’s course. They also say the river will further erode the Nepali side of the border, especially during the monsoon.
During Sunday’s scuffles, some Indian citizens were also injured, according to Indian media reports.
“We’ve told the Nepal administration to take action against stone-pelters,” Indian news agency, ANI, quoted a junior magistrate of Pithoragarh district as saying.
The new agency also quoted one B Thapa, who was identified as the president of Board of Trade from the Indian side, as saying that they have continued their protest against Nepal demanding action for the injuries received by Indian traders allegedly at the hands of the Nepali police during a baton-charge.
“If action is not taken within three days by the administration, we will start a hunger strike here,” Thapa told the ANI.
But chief district officer Upadhyay rejected such allegations and said no Indian national was injured on the Nepali side of the border.
Officials said the Indian side has built a gabion wall up to ten meters tall on the Indian side of the river to prevent erosion and flooding. Nepalis are vehemently opposed to the new construction and say the wall will divert the Mahakali towards Nepal and cause further damage.
Meanwhile, leaders from various political parties have called for an early resolution of the dispute.
Speaking at a function in Jhapa on Tuesday, Nepali Congress General Secretary Bishwa Prakash Sharma said the new Indian embankment mocks the dignity of Nepal and its people.
“As India has undermined the dignity of Nepal, the government has sent a diplomatic note protesting the unilateral construction,” said Sharma.
UML leaders also demanded an immediate halt to construction works on the river.
“Mahakali is a border river so no one should build structures that affect the other side of the river,” said Rajan Bhattarai, head of CPN-UML international relations department. “Any unilateral construction should be stopped immediately and the two countries should sit for talks to find an amicable and permanent solution,” Bhattarai said.