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Nepal's House of Representatives members gesture as they vote on an amendment to update the national emblem with a new controversial political map in Kathmandu on June 13, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Patna: Amid escalating border dispute between India and China in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), yet another India neighbour, Nepal, has sought to stop the Bihar Government from carrying out embankment-related work on the border, claiming the area as part of its territory.

This comes barely two days after the Upper House of Nepal’s parliament approved a new political map for the country, including the land controlled by India. In the new map, Indian territories such as Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura in the state of Uttarakhand in India have been shown as part of Nepalese territory — a move that has been strongly rejected by India, saying it was not based on historical facts or evidence. 
Bihar shares a 729km-long international border with Nepal.

Officials from the Water Resources Department (WRD) were surprised when Nepalese authorities prevented them from carrying out fortification of an embankment on Lal Bakey River in the Dhaka block of east Chamaparn district in Bihar. The area now being claimed by Nepal is some 45km from Motihari town, headquarters of the east Champaran district.

Fortification work

Authorities said the WRD of Government of Bihar had constructed the embankment long back over the river, which originates from the Himalayan region of Nepal, and had been carrying out fortification work every year ahead of the monsoon, but they never faced such objection from Nepal.

Reports said, initially, the authorities tried hard to sort out the issue at the local level, but they failed. The Bihar authorities have now reported the matter to the federal Home Ministry, Government of Bihar and the Indian Embassy in Nepal.

“Nepal has stopped embankment-related work in Indian territory near the border. We have reported the matter to both, the Bihar government as well as the Union Government. We hope to resolve the issue soon,” east Champaran district magistrate Shirshat Kapil Ashok told the media.

The district magistrate has also apprised the Geological Survey of India of the entire situation, urging the latter to resolve the dispute at the earliest so that the pending embankment work can be completed soon.

‘Raising objections’

“Fortification of embankment in 400 metres, out of a 2.5km-long stretch, was not done. The WRD department has built the embankment till the last point of the border, but now Nepalese authorities are raising objections over it,” the district magistrate told the media on Saturday. According to him, he also held talks with his Nepalese counterpart, but the matter remains unresolved.

Another senior official said the portion of embankment now being claimed by Nepal is located far away from the international border, but they don’t know why Nepal is objecting to it this time. 
“The last portion of the embankment is more than nine metres south of the no-man’s-land. The dispute is untenable and unwarranted,” local circle officer Ashok Kumar said on Saturday.

Lockdown in Nepal

The fresh incident comes barely a week after the Nepalese Armed Police Force resorted to firing on a crowd of Bihar villagers, leaving one dead on the spot and detaining two others who were later released after the authorities intervened.

The incident took place during a meeting between the family members from both sides of the border and Indian villagers were told to leave the border due to lockdown in Nepal. Such meetings are quite common during normal times, but they remain banned now since Nepal is under lockdown, while India has withdrawn it. A series of such incidents have created tension along the porous Indo-Nepal border as the people from Bihar are now shirking from entering Nepal.

The fresh incident comes amid the violent conflict between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in the Ladakh region last week, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.