India-Nepal Territorial Dispute

India-Nepal Territorial Dispute


Why in the news? 

Nepal has announced printing a new Rs 100 currency note with a map showing the controversial territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani, already termed as “artificial enlargement” and “untenable” by India. The cabinet approved the re-design of the banknote of Rs 100 and replaced the old map printed in the background of the bank note during the cabinet meetings. 

The India-Nepal border dispute is a longstanding issue concerning the demarcation of the border between the two countries. The main areas of contention include Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulekh, situated in northwestern Nepal, near the border with the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Backgrounds of the Border Disputes between India and Nepal: 

The root cause of the dispute can be traced back to historical treaties and agreements, notably the Sugauli Treaty of 1815 between Nepal and the British East India Company, which defined the borders between Nepal and British India. However, there have been differing interpretations and claims regarding the border’s location in certain areas. The Nepal-India border stretches for more than 1,700 kilometres. Its establishment primarily stems from the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, which ended the Anglo-Nepal War. 

The Kali River inspires the name of the Kalapani region. In Nepal, this river is named Mahakali and is as revered in Nepal as the Ganga River is in India. Serving as a natural boundary between India and Nepal, the river’s origins have been a point of contention between the two countries.

Nepal and India have shared strong ties since the latter’s independence. A 1950 bilateral treaty made Nepal India’s protectorate and made India responsible for its defence. Nepal, a landlocked country, has always depended on India for imports. Hence, India’s economic blockade of 2015 has been a rude awakening for the Himalayan country.

In May 2020, the Government of Nepal released an updated political map of the country, which included Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulekh as part of Nepal’s territory. This move was in response to longstanding territorial disputes between Nepal and India, particularly regarding the demarcation of the border in these areas. 

Currently, Kalapani, Limpiadhura, and Lipulekh on the India-Nepal border are included in the official maps of both countries. These areas are under India’s administration.

About the Treaty of Sugauli: 

The Treaty of Sugauli was signed on December 2, 1815, between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Nepal. It was signed on 4th March 1816 between the East India Company and Guru Gajraj Mishra.  This treaty marked the end of the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816) and established the terms for peace and territorial agreements between the two parties. 

Key provisions of the Treaty of Sugauli include:

  • Nepal ceded significant territories to the British, including present-day Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Sikkim.
  • The treaty delineated the border between Nepal and British India. In the west, it established the Mahakali River as the boundary; in the east, the Mechi River was designated as the boundary.
  • In exchange for the territories ceded to the British, Nepal received an annual compensation (or “khillat”) of 200,000 rupees.
  • Nepal agreed to acknowledge British suzerainty and accept British mediation in its external affairs. This effectively made Nepal a British protectorate in terms of foreign relations. 
  • Article 5 of the Sugauli Treaty mentions the Mahakali River (or River Kalee, as it is known in the Treaty) as Nepal’s western boundary. 

The Treaty does not specify the source of the Mahakali River. The origin of a river is critical when it serves as the boundary between countries. During the signing of the Sugauli Treaty, neither the representatives from Nepal nor those from the British East India Company affixed their signatures to any maps. 

Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh Tri-Junction:

Kalapani area: “Kalapani” typically refers to a region in the Himalayas, specifically in the border areas of India, Nepal, and China (Tibet). The Kalapani border dispute is centred around the Kalapani River region in the Indian-administered state of Uttarakhand and the adjoining areas Nepal claims as part of its territory. The Kalapani area is strategically significant in South Asian diplomacy as it is at the tri-junction between India, Chinese-occupied Tibet and Nepal.

 Limpiyadhura Pass area: Limpiyadhura Pass is a strategic mountain pass located in the far western region of Nepal, near the tri-junction point between Nepal, India, and China (Tibet). It’s situated in the Himalayas at an altitude of around 5,400 meters (17,717 feet) above sea level. 

Nepal’s claim to the Limpiyadhura Pass area arises from its claim over Kalapani as it lies adjacent to it in India across Tibet’s Ngari border. 

Lipulekh Pass: Lipulekh Pass is a mountain in the Himalayas at the tri-junction of India, Nepal, and China (Tibet). It lies near the India-China border and has been a Subject of territorial disputes between India and Nepal. The pass holds strategic significance due to its location and role in facilitating trade and pilgrimage routes between India and Tibet.

The three disputed areas cover about 370 sq km (140 square miles). The entire Limpiyadhura-Kalapani-Lipulekh area is under Indian administration and is part of the Pithoragarh district in the Kumaon Division of Uttarakhand state.

Way forward:

  • Diplomatic Dialogue: Initiate high-level diplomatic talks between India and Nepal to discuss the border issue. Both sides should approach negotiations with an open mind and a willingness to compromise.
  • Survey and Mapping: Conduct a joint survey of the border region using modern technology and mapping techniques to demarcate the boundary line accurately. Both countries should agree to accept the survey findings as the basis for resolving the dispute.
  • Mediation: If necessary, seek mediation from a neutral third party or international organisation with expertise in border disputes, such as the United Nations or the International Court of Justice. The mediator’s role would be to facilitate negotiations and help the parties reach a mutually acceptable solution.
  • Bilateral Agreement: Once an agreement is reached, formalise it through a bilateral treaty or agreement that clearly defines the border between India and Nepal. Both countries should commit to respecting and upholding the terms of the agreement.
  • Cross-Border Cooperation: Foster greater cooperation and collaboration between India and Nepal on various fronts, including trade, tourism, and infrastructure development, to build trust and strengthen bilateral ties. 


Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 6th May 2024


Prelims Practice Question:

Q. Which of the following Indian states does NOT share a border with Nepal?

A.  West Bengal

B. Sikkim

C. Bihar

D. Arunachal Pradesh


Mains Practice Question: 

Q. How are both India and Nepal working collaboratively to address and find a mutually beneficial resolution to the ongoing border disputes, ensuring that the deep-rooted historical, cultural, and friendly ties between the two nations are upheld?

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