Territory of Nepal


Buddhi Narayan Shrestha,

Border Management Expert, Nepal

Mr. Shrestha served the Nepal government as Director General at the Map Department. This should explain his experience in the issues pertaining to the continued encroachments of Nepali lands by neighboring India. He is basically an expert on border management who has had a long practical experience and adequate expertise in the domain of mapping activities His freshly published book on Border Management of Nepal which deals basically with the burning issues of managing and regulating the country’s border with its neighbors. This book penned by Mr. Shrestha became so popular among the nationalists of the country that it bagged even the prestigious Madan Puraskar award in the year 2057 B.S. Nepal as a nation-state must remain ever obliged to this senior Geographer whose contributions in opening the eyes of the Nepal’s Indo-pendant leaders as regards how India encroaches upon our lands as and when we happen to be politically in a weakened state. Mr. Shrestha has been voicing his concerns through books and articles that we must go in for a scientific demarcation and proper management of our border with India. Shrestha was born in Okhaldhunga district and currently resides close to our office in Ghattekulo, Dillibazar. Apart from several books to his credit, scholar Shrestha has participated in scores of national as well international seminars wherein he has remained successful in highlighting Nepal’s plight as regards the land encroachment by India and that too on a continued basis. He has obtained various degrees, for example, Land Surveying-Calcutta; Land Use Mapping, Canada; Land Information System, Germany and Remote Sensing Technology, Japan. One could say that he is a sort of reservoir of knowledge in his domain. Last week, we approached this noted Nepali Geographer to share his views on Nepal’s border problems with India. Mr. Shrestha readily agreed. We thank him for his sagacity. Below the results of our talks with Mr. Shrestha-editor, The Telegraph Weekly—————————————————–           TGQ1: As a senior bureaucrat until recently, tell us Mr. Shrestha your personal experience on how the government of the day cooperated with you on your mission to demarcate and locate the lost or shifted borders? Do you see any change in the previous and the present governments’ in its attitude when it comes to talk straight with India as regards the border issues?

Mr. Shrestha: The government ministries, departments and organizations have not disturbed me till this date in my study, research, field visits, writing, publication, presentation and discussions with various institutions and social organizations. On the other side of the coin, they have not helped and co-operated me directly either. Some of the government officials have inspired me asking to continue to carry out my studies and research. But a few of them sometimes tell me that it will not good to give them trouble writing the border demarcation issues, especially on the southern frontier of our country. As a matter of fact, if the government officials help me directly or knowingly, they will get trouble from our neighboring nation through the Nepalese high ranking authorities. At least they have to face inquiries from their superiors, if somebody knows that I get information from them. So they don’t want to get some type of harassment. I have not experienced any change of the attitude of past and present government(s) concerning the dealings with India on the border demarcation problems. Authorities of both periods have a kind of inner fear that India will get angry and they may loose their power / job or they will not get any benefit for their future career.

TGQ2: As an acclaimed expert of border management and with vast experience collected in this regard while being in the bureaucracy, can you let our readers know as to in how many places neighboring India has nakedly encroached upon our lands? If so, then what has been the government’s reaction so far to regain our lost lands? Your remarks please!

Mr. Shrestha: As my study, research and field inspection reveals that our southern neighbor has encroached at least 54 places along Nepal-India borderline. The total area under encroachment, dispute, conflict, controversy, violation, claim and counter-claim have been estimated at around 60,000 hectares of land, of which Kalapani-Limpiyadhura alone covers 37,840 ha. Susta area 14,860 ha and various places in Jhapa districts cover around 1,630 ha and other places in other districts occupy around 5,640 ha. 21 districts out of 26 districts adjoined with the Indian frontier have been suffered by disputed areas. Places of disputes and encroachment are increasing year after year. By the effect of my publications about the places of counter and counter-claims by both the sides, Nepal government has informed to the local press that Nepal-India border issues and disputes will be solved amicably with the satisfaction of both the countries. But the burning problems like Kalapani-Limpiyadhura, Susta etc have never been resolved, since Nepal-India Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee has been working for the last twenty five years. Its period of terms has been extended eight times as 1991, 1995, 1997, 2003, June 2005, 2006, June 2007 and December 2007. However, the past progress / activity and way of dealings reveal that there is no possibility of settling the border encroachment problems with India in due time or within the allotted time period. In short, the government machinery is not so sensitive to settle the problems within the time frame due to various factors.

TGQ3: It is widely believed that the Indian soldiers have since long been stationed in Kalapani which is basically Nepali land located at the tri-junction. Do we possess enough and adequate authentic papers or for matter maps which prove that Kalapani is a Nepali land and that the Indians must vacate our land? Shed some light also on how our leaders handle the land encroachment issue as and when it arises in between Nepal and India? Are they really serious about it or take the event lightly?

Mr. Shrestha: Yes, Kalapani area including Limpiyadhura certainly belongs to Nepal. There is no doubt as it is depicted on the historical maps published by Survey of India, China, Russia, Germany, Japan and also some other countries. I would like to cite some old maps such as Map of Gurhwal Kumaon (1st February 1827), Nipal and the countries adjoining South, West and East (24th April 1856), Index Map of India ( 1835), The Atlas of India (1846), Sketch Map of Kumaon (1819), Old Atlas of China, Qing Dynasty (China 1903), Indo Index of South Asia, (Tokyo 1934), The World Atlas (Moscow 1984), Vorder-Indien, Indo-Britische (Germany 1834) etc. The most interesting fact is that in the map of 24 April 1856, it is written in note-3 that Jung Bahadur’s Nipal Sketch Map in Dev Nagree Characters received from Foreign Department sent thereto by Resident of Nipal (No Scale) has been included in this map. In all of these maps, it is drawn that the Kalee River is originated from Limpiyadhura. According to these maps, Nepal’s territory is extended not only to Kalapani, but 17 Km west up to Limpiyadhura. Our political leaders raise voice and make slogans during the election period and also when they are in the opposition bench in the parliament that ‘Kalapani is ours and India must quit Kalapani.’ But it is unfortunate that when they are in the government and power, they keep their lips mum. This is a very mysterious fact about the sensitivity on the national boundary of Nepal. However, our political leaders know very well that India has encroached upon our territory in so many segments. But they don’t venture to put the matter to India when they hold the political and administrative power. When they come out of power, they again make slogan on the border issues of Nepal to win the mind of the Nepalese people once again.

TGQ4: As you must have been involved in negotiations with India in sorting out the border issues while being in government, tell us how our bureaucrats, if you recall, present themselves at such negotiations? Have you heard of the “scholarship” factor granted by the other side to our negotiators to hush-hush the matter for good? Had you been ever seduced with scholarship schemes by the other side at time of the border negotiation? Your personal experience please.

Mr. Shrestha: The Nepalese bureaucrats present themselves in a good fashion at first during the negotiations. But when the talk prolongs in a certain issue, the tempo (situation) of the Nepalese team may go down due to poor home work and insufficient internal discussion before starting the joint meeting. During the negotiating meetings, mostly the Indian team goes in depth finding out the root / crux of the problem. But the Nepalese team bears the shallow information and knowledge on the said meeting. The next point is that Nepalese authorities do not visualize and forecast possible or would be problems. And if there are problems of claims and counter claims and conversations, Nepalese team may generally be tired of the problems. Yes, I have heard the scholarship luring factor for the sons and daughters of the Nepalese authorities. When the Nepalese gains superiority in some discussing points, there is a possibility that the Indian counterpart may divert the issues in irrelevant matters such as the education of young boys and girls of the Nepalese officials in the field of medicine and engineering. Sometime, they may break the dialogue in international language and they may start to speak in Hindi “Arey bhai, Nepali Indian to bhai bhai na hain.” I had never been seduced with luring scholarship scheme during my tenure. My daughters have studied in Pakistan and Bangladesh. But I must say honestly that I have obtained survey education in West Bengal Survey Institue, Bandel Calcutta during 1966-67. Still I have some Bengali Surveyor friends making correspondence time and often. We have very good relationship.

TGQ5: What would be the fate of the “Kalapani Mission” which is to proceed to Kalapani by mid-August comprising of academicians, intellectuals, historians, journalists and etc? The Mission is said to create awareness among the common Nepalese that Kalapani really belonged to Nepal. Do you consider such Missions will bag success given the subservient attitude of Nepali leaders towards New Delhi? Do you agree that as and when Nepal is politically weak, New Delhi encroached upon our lands here and there? Your valuable remarks please.

Mr. Shrestha: So far as I understand the historical facts on Kalapani Issue is in favor of Nepal. If the authorities of our friendly nation India do not give consent to the historical facts and figures, that’s another thing. But they have to rely on various nations and organizations of the world including the United Nations Security Council and International Count of Justice. The proposed mission to Kalapani creates awareness to the general people and warns the government that Kalapani-Limpiyadhura belongs to Nepal. I am sure they put the matter publicly with some legal, technical, geographical and historical background. I think, such mission may bag success convincing to the government authorities. Because these authorities also are of the Nepalese nationality and they love their nation Nepal. These days, Nepal is open not only to India, but also to so many other countries of the world who like and love Nepal and Nepali people and nationality of Nepal. Because this is the age of information technology. If there are some incidents in Nepal, the world may know it within some hours of that happenings. In fact, New Delhi wants to make Nepal politically weak. India considers that Nepal may ask and consult to New Delhi on all matters. Past history tells that when there are political changes in Nepal, the people of Indian frontier intend to encroach some territory of Nepal. There are some examples that when the Jana Andolan- II was on rise, some lands of Susta area, Parasan, Lalbojhi (kauakheda), Bhajani (Kusumghat), Gulariya (Chaugurji) etc have been encroached.

Open Border and Revenue Leakage


Nepal: Open Border and Revenue Leakage

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Generally, Nepal and India has an open border system. However, regulated system has been adopted on air route and Nepalganj-Rupaidiya border crossing point since October 1, 2000 and November 1, 2005 respectively.

There may be a question, whether the open border system should be continued! To answer this question we have to visualize the infiltration of unwanted elements across the porous international border. Secondly, one has to draw attention on the activities of the smugglers through the porous border. Illegal transportation of machinery parts, motor vehicles, chemical fertilizer, clothes and materials manufactured in India and third country to Nepal is increasing day by day. As a result, there is a revenue loss of Rs. 15 Crore per month for the last four months. According to a source published recently, the amount of customs duty has been decreased tremendously as it was not controlled the illegal transaction on the frontier of both nations. The smugglers use the porous border crossing-points, avoiding the main customs and sub-customs offices, where the customs officials do not pay their attention. For example, chemical fertilizer has been transported openly from the various crossing points including Samalbung point of Ilam district. At the same time, chewing nut, Panparag, tobacco mixed Khaini and other high customs revenue rating materials and merchandise have been illegally imported from east and west undermined crossing points of Birganj area.Similarly, various raw materials of Nepal including timber, herb, medicinal plants, animal hides, stone, sand, gravel, vegetable ghee, beer, wine, ready made noodles and even kerosene, petrol, diesel which are cheaper in Nepal have been exported to India illegally by smugglers. It has negatively affected the earning of customs revenue of the government of Nepal. Recently, there is a scandal of Rakta Chandan (red sandalwood), illegally transported from India and to be exported to Tibetan Autonomous Region of China.All these are due to mismanagement of international border between Nepal and India. Various self-interested persons and agencies have been involved to make the border unmanaged. If the border with India is well managed and regulated, their illegal motive will not be fulfilled. So they want to keep the border somehow unmanageable. Self-interested group has spread their approach from the police post of frontier area to customs patrolling team, customs personnel and local administration. As a matter of fact the border crossing management system has not been regularized due to inefficient local administration. Smugglers have been encourage due to paying less attention by the customs officials and police personnel. Local news has been published time and often that illegal export and import of goods, material and machinery have been increased with the protection of policemen through the porous points of the border. Customs officials have their own role and vested interest in this aspect. Besides, high ranking politicians and dignitaries have been involved directly or indirectly in some cases to channelize and support the smugglers and their activities. One burning example could be cited as published in the local newspaper. Even the personal secretary of Home Minister and a worker of congress veteran lady leader were also involved to smuggle the Rakta Chandan, transporting from Indian open border to Khasa customs point. So the open border system is as much culprit as the helpers to the smugglers. To obstruct all these illegal activities and to restrict the leakage of government revenue, the border between Nepal and India must be regularized, controlled and systematized.For this, both the governments should implement an alternative measures on the border to increase the customs revenue of Nepal. One of the alternative measures may be the introduction of ID Card System to the passengers who cross the international border. Second  alternative may be fencing the frontier with 180 exit and entry points. Third may be deployment of border security force on the frontier. Recently, Nepal government has decided to deploy the Armed Police Force on the border to control the illegal activities and trans-border crime. But it has to be very cautious that Nepali and Indian border security forces (Sashastra Seema Bal) may not clash each other in some minor issues. If the security forces clash, the common folk of both the frontiers may be hurt physically, mentally and socially, So the government should think the consequences of deployment of forces on both the sides of the No-man’s Land before some unwanted incident takes place. (The author is renowned Border specialist and the Former Director General – Department of Survey, Nepal, article written in May, 2007)

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