Nepal's Parliament unanimously passes bill to redraw map incorporating 3 Indian areas

Nepal's Parliament unanimously passes bill to redraw map incorporating 3 Indian areas
Nepalese people light candles as they celebrate after the parliament approved a new map of the country, including areas disputed with India, in Kathmandu, Nepal June 13, 2020. Reuters
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Kathmandu: Nepal's Parliament on Thursday amended the Constitution to update the country's new political map which incorporated three strategically important Indian areas, notwithstanding New Delhi's strong protests against such an "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims.

India has already termed as "untenable" the "artificial enlargement" of the territorial claims by Nepal after its lower house of Parliament on Saturday unanimously approved the new political map of the country featuring Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas which India maintains belong to it.

Nepal last month released the revised political and administrative map of the country laying claim over the strategically important areas, more than six months after India published a new map in November 2019.

The National Assembly, or the upper house of the Nepalese parliament, unanimously passed the Constitution amendment bill providing for the inclusion of the country's new political map in its national emblem.

The bill to amend the Constitution to update the new map was tabled in the National Assembly, the upper house on Sunday, a day after the House of Representatives unanimously endorsed it.

All 57 members of the National Assembly, who were present on the occasion, voted in favour of the amendment bill. There was zero vote against the Bill.

National Assembly chairperson Ganesh Timilsina said that 57 members voted for the bill.

"There was no voting against the bill and none of the members voted for the neutral category as well," Timilsina said.

Now the bill will be sent to President Bidya Devi Bhandari for authentication after which it will be incorporated in the Constitution. After that, the new map will be used in all official documents, including the coat of arms.

The Cabinet had endorsed the new political map on May 18.

On Saturday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, replying to the queries on the passing of the bill by the lower house, said: We have noted that the House of Representatives of Nepal has passed a Constitution amendment bill for changing the map of Nepal to include parts of Indian territory. We have already made our position clear on this matter.

This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues."

The India-Nepal bilateral ties came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.

India has sternly asked Nepal not to resort to any "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims.

Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has been asserting that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal and vowed to "reclaim" them from India.

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