KATHMANDU (Reuters) – The upper house of Nepal’s parliament approved a new map of the country on Thursday including land controlled by India, in a row that has strained ties between the South Asian neighbours.
India, which controls the region – a slice of land including the Limpiyadhura, Lipulkeh and Kalapani areas to the west of Nepal – has rejected the map, saying it was not based on historical facts or evidence.
Members in the National Assembly, or upper house, voted 57-0 in favour of a constitutional amendment bill seeking to replace the old map, chairman of the house Ganesh Prasad Timilsina said. The bill was passed by the lower house over the weekend.
“We have enough facts and evidence and we’ll sit (with India) to resolve the dispute through diplomatic negotiations,” law minister Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe told parliament.
The new map was approved by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, a presidential palace statement said, hours after it was cleared by the parliament.
A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry declined to comment on Nepal’s decision.
The row over the map began last month after India inaugurated an 80 km (50 mile) road from the northern state of Uttarakhand to Lipulekh on the border with the Tibet region of China, about 19 km of which passes through the area Nepal says belongs to it.
The road cuts the travel time and distance from India to Tibet’s Mansarovar lake, considered holy by Hindus.
Nepal says the land belongs to it as a river in the region formed its western border with India under an 1816 treaty with the British East India Company.
Nepal, which was never a part of British India, and New Delhi differ over where the river originates.
The disputed land, about 372 square km (144 square miles) in area, is strategically located at the tri-junction between Nepal, India and the Tibet region of China. India has kept a security presence in the area since a border war with China in 1962.
Reporting by Gopal Sharma, additional reporting by Alasdair Pal in New Delhi; Editing by Alasdair Pal and Timothy Heritage