Boundary pillars missing, derelict on Nepal-India border in KanchanpurIndian SSB personnel frequently interfere with Nepali villagers when they construct houses or cultivate farmland in the area.
It has been many years since border pillar No 3 along the Nepal-India border near Tanakpur barrage went missing in Kanchanpur district. According to the local villagers, the missing pillar is somewhere in the middle of the reservoir of the barrage. Border disputes occur time and again in the area as the border pillar went missing many years ago.
Owing to the border disputes caused by the absence of border pillars, the local people claim, India’s Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB), a paramilitary force deployed along the Indian border, frequently interferes with construction activities including road construction on the Nepali side. They even create disturbances in tree plantation programmes in the community forests on the Nepali side of the border.
The border pillar No 3 is not the only pillar that went missing along Nepal-India border. Floods swept away a border pillar at Bhujela in ward 11 of Bhimdutta Municipality in 2013. The border pillar is yet to be traced. Another border pillar at Khalla in Bhimdutta-9 is in derelict condition as it was damaged by the floods in 2013. The fallen pillar on the bank of the Mahakali river has not been repaired yet. Another border pillar at Jimuwa in Bhimdutta-10 has fallen into a drainage.
“The border pillars toppled in some places while they went missing in others. Any future flooding of the Mahakali river could sweep away those fallen pillars,” said Bhawani Dutta Joshi, a local of Jimuwa in Bhimdutta-10. “The SSB frequently harasses the local people by exploiting the absence of those border pillars,” said Joshi, claiming that the border pillar at Brahmadev went missing during the construction of the Tanakpur barrage.
The SSB personnel have erected wooden poles near the Nepali village at Brahmadev. The SSB personnel frequently interfere with Nepali villagers when they construct houses or cultivate farmland in the area.
Nepal and India share a 129.5-km-long border in Kanchanpur, a Tarai district of Sudurpaschim Province. According to the information provided by the authorities, there are a total of 390 main and subsidiary border pillars in Kanchanpur. Among them 32 pillars went missing while 41 pillars were damaged by the floods. Many other border pillars are in dilapidated condition.
“Many problems arise when border pillars are not in good condition. If the border pillars are not intact, it may create several problems at the local level,” said Pallabraj Bhatta, chairman of the Border Concern Group in Kanchanpur. According to him, there are border disputes between two countries in more than a dozen places in Kanchanpur.
The construction of around 1,200 metres stretch of the Postal Highway has been obstructed due to border dispute in the Pachuni area of Belauri Municipality-8. The SSB personnel have been obstructing the road construction on the Nepali side.
A Nepal-India joint survey team started survey work from the southern part of Kanchanpur four years ago. The local people had protested after Nepali registered land plots and even the irrigation canal of Mahakali Irrigation Project were placed on the Indian side during the survey. The survey work was halted following protests by locals.
India is supposed to repair or reconstruct the even-numbered border pillars while it is Nepal’s responsibility to repair odd-numbered pillars along the Nepal-India border. The reconstruction of the missing pillars and repair of the derelict ones in the district have been halted due to the border dispute.
Chief District Officer of Kanchanpur Gopal Kumar Adhikari asserts that work to restore and repair border pillars will be started soon. “The Armed Police Force will repair and construct the border pillars. The work will be commenced after mid-November after estimating the cost,” said Adhikari.