Officials reach Urai border point to inspect illegal trade in the areaThe team aims to keep in check smuggling cases, set up a border security post and inspect Chainpur-Taklakot road.
On Friday, members of the House of Representatives and chiefs of security agencies inspected the Urai border point in Bajhang district after news of illegal trade across the border was published in the Post on November 11.
The Urai border point connects Nepal with Tibet in China. Although the border was sealed by the Chinese government back in January amid Covid-19 concerns, the smuggling of medicinal herbs and wildlife parts continued.
The team went to the border area to keep in check the smuggling of medicinal herbs and wildlife parts, to establish a border security post and inspect the condition of the Chainpur-Taklakot road.
Aasha BK and Prakash Snehi, members of the House of Representatives from Bajhang district, and Rajendra Dhami, chairman of Saipal Rural Municipality, flew to the Urai border point for inspection on Friday. The team also comprised of Kamalraj Bhandari, chief district officer of Bajhang; Diamond Karki, chief at Sangram Sardul Battalion of Nepal Army in Bajhang; and Damodar Dhodari, deputy superintendent of police, also chief at the Armed Police Force in Bajhang, among other officials.
“We request the chief district officer to bring a work plan to end smuggling in the area. We, as members of the House of Representatives, will also work for the plan’s implementation,” said Snehi.
Dhami, chairman of the rural municipality, had facilitated the team to reach Urai border point.
According to CDO Bhandari, the team has decided to set up a proper security system in the border point for seven months every year, as smugglers are taking advantage of the open border and absence of security personnel in the border.
“The border gets sealed due to snowfall in winter. But it is necessary to arrange for a proper security system in the area from mid-March to mid-November,” said Bhandari, adding that they will discuss with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the District Security Committee about the establishment of APF Border Outpost in Chorachaur, a one-day walk from Dhuli village.
It takes around three days to reach the Nepal-China border from the police post in Dhuli, which is around 30 kilometres towards Nepal from the international border.
“There’s no human settlement in the border area. That is why it is not possible to establish a permanent border security post for the time being,” said Bhandari. “A temporary security camp will be in place from mid-March to mid-November to stop illegal businesses in the border area.”
Both Dhami and BK had submitted memorandums to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to control smuggling in the border point. Dhami had also requested the chief minister and minister of Internal Affairs of Sudurpaschim Province to set up a security system in the border area.
“This time, we have managed to take officials, including the House of Representatives, to observe the situation in Urai,” said Dhami.
After the news of smuggling in the border area got published in the Post, a joint patrol team of Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Division Forest Office was sent to the area for inquiry in mid-November. But the team could not reach the border point due to heavy snowfall.
It takes at least five days to reach the Urai border point from Chainpur, the district headquarters of Bajhang, on foot.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives, who reached the border for inspection, said they will construct a tunnelway along the Chainpur-Taklakot road and prepare the Saipal Tourism Development Plan for the development of Saipal region.
“Saipal region has many possibilities and can be developed into a tourist destination. I will actively play a role to promote this area,” said Snehi.
BK, another member of the House of Representatives who reached Urai on Friday, said, “We will request the federal government to keep the construction of the tunnelway in priority.”
Last year, the Chinese government had opened a road from Taklakot to the Urai border point. “If the government takes initiatives, the tunnelway along the Chainpur-Taklakot road could also be constructed with the financial assistance of China,” said BK.
With the closure of Tatapani border in Sindhupalchok and heightened security in Rasuwagadhi and other border points, smugglers have started frequenting the Urai border since security is lax in the area. According to local entrepreneurs in Bajhang, Urai border point is not closely guarded as other international border points so smugglers find it easy to trade there.