Nepal on Thursday began the once in a decade census with the collection of personal data and information. But officials in Kathmandu were in a fix whether over conducting the survey in the disputed territories with India like Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura.
The former KP Sharma Oli government last year issued a new map incorporating the disputed territories with India that pushed bilateral ties to an all-time low.
This emerged as a major irritant in the Nepal-India relations, with Delhi calling Kathamndu’s decision to publish the new map a cartographic assertion.
Nepal’s move was prompted by India’s announcement that it was building a road link to Kailash Manasarovar in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China via Lipulekh.
The new map was adopted by Parliament through a constitutional amendment. Officials have been wondering for quite a while about how to conduct a census in the region, not because it is remote but because it is controlled by India.
Now there were calls from several quarters to conduct the census in Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura area but officials are still in a fix.
“We are looking forward to using the satellite technology to collect necessary information of the people residing in Kalapani, Lipulek, and Limpiyadhura for the 12th National Population and Household Census,” Director General of Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Nabin Lal Shrestha said.
“We have made a request with India through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct the census in those three areas,” he said, adding that as of now no permission has been granted from the Indian side.
Nepal has been claiming that its boundary to the west-north begins from Limpiyadhura where the river Mahakali originates. In Kalapani, it is currently occupied by the Indian troops and Lipulehk is the tri-juncture between Nepal, India, and China.
The CBS said the government is holding talks with the Indian authorities to carry out the population census of the region.
According to the Bureau, the authority has been considering using satellite means to take the data of households residing in the region.
Shrestha said that the CBS cannot send enumerators to the Kalapani region without talks with India, as it continues to control the area, even though Nepal claims the territory as its own.
Also, since there is no direct road link connecting the region with the rest of the country, people can reach the area via India.
Officials say that the bureau has already collected the data on the population in the region based on India’s 2011 census, according to which, there are 363 people in Kuti, 78 in Nabi, and 335 in Gunji the three villages in the region.
CBS officials say they will wait for a response from the Foreign Ministry with regard to their request for diplomatic initiatives with India.
Since India has been nonchalant of late with regards to Nepal’s diplomatic requests, it is not clear whether Delhi would respond.
When New Delhi published a new map in November 2019 to update its political map after detailing the boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, it had shown the Kalapani region within Indian borders.
The new map was unveiled after the Indian government on August 5, 2019 rescinded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, paving the way for the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Nepal’s attempts to hold diplomatic dialogue to resolve the issue went unanswered by India.