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First meeting of Nepal-India boundary group begins


Kathmandu, Sep 17 (IANS): The first meeting of the Nepal-India Boundary Working Group (BWG) commenced Wednesday in Kathmandu.

The BWG was constituted this year to undertake field work related to finalising the Nepal-India boundary, said a statement issued here by Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The boundary mechanism will take up the works that have remained to be accomplished since the expiry, in 2007, of the mandate of the Joint Technical-level Nepal-India Boundary Committee that was established in 1981.

During the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal in early August, the two sides had agreed to set up the BWG stating that "the two prime ministers also underlined the need to resolve pending Nepal-India boundary issues once and for all".

"They welcomed the formation of the Boundary Working Group (BWG) to undertake the construction, restoration and repair of boundary pillars, including clearance of 'No-man's land' and other technical tasks."

The main agenda of the BWG's first meeting is to finalise its own composition and terms of reference as well as composition and terms of reference of its subsidiary mechanisms. The meeting is scheduled to conclude Friday.

The surveyors general from both sides are leading the respective delegations. The BWG is mandated to commence field work at the earliest for the construction, restoration and repair of boundary pillars, including clearance of "no-man's land" or Dash Gaja and all other technical tasks according to the terms of reference to be agreed on in the first meeting of the BWG.

The meeting will provide inputs to respective foreign secretaries to work on the outstanding boundary issues including on Susta and Kalapani on priority basis and take technical inputs from the BWG where necessary.

The BWG is mandated to seek an amicable technical solution to the unsettled boundary row, to address the border encroachment problem, to reinstate missing border pillars and to repair the damaged ones, and clear the Dash Gaja.

The BWG also manages the cross-holdings of people living on both sides, according to foreign ministry officials. People living on the Nepali side in bordering areas up to now have to shift to the Indian side after the demarcation. There are similar problems with people living on the Indian side. In such cross-holding cases, the BWG will manage the problem by providing various options.

The people on either side will be given the choice to decide where they want to live. If a Nepali family's location shifts to the Indian side after the demarcation, they will be given an option to decide whether they want to permanently live in India or in Nepal. If a family wants to shift from either country, they will be given a year's time to sell their properties and resettle in the country of their choice.

Officials from both the sides will conduct a local valuation of the land and compensate them for the resettlement.

The technical-level committee had prepared 182 sheets of maps of the India-Nepal border in 2007. Signed at the technical level, the maps await ratification from higher authorities on both sides. According to the Nepali estimation, over 8,000 pillars, including 640 in rivers, are required to demarcate the Nepal-India border. On land, 1,240 pillars are missing.

According to the survey department of Nepal, some 2,500 pillars should be maintained or renovated and 400 constructed. For the missing ones, Nepal will present as the basis the 1816 situation before Nepal and British India signed the Sugauli Treaty.

 


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