kalapani issue upsc

Kalapani Issue | India-Nepal Relations | UPSC


Talks only way to resolve Kalapani issue: Nepal FM

      WHY IN NEWS:


  •  India inaugurated a road from Dharchula to Lipu Lekh (Chinaborder).
  • Nepal claims that the stretch passes though it territory.

  This road follows the traditional pilgrim route for the Kailash Mansarovar yatra, which started in 1981 after about 25 years, when India and China agreed to reopen the pilgrim route via Lipu Lekh.

  • Recently, Nepal’s PM described India as a “virus more dangerous than coronavirus”.
  •  Nepal deployed its armed police at Chharung, close to Kalapani, raising eyebrows in New Delhi.
  • Nepal launched the new official map , which depicts Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of its territory and is planning to give it a constitutional status.
MINISTRY? :-Ministry of External Affairs


For PRELIMS Kalapani Issue is very important as per UPSC perspective .Skim through the map of India-Nepal border and the rivers ! Right bank tributaries and the left ones . Now concentrate on states sharing the border and also the  resources,mining,demography and the landforms.

For MAINS well this is a sure shot question ! Prepare this like never before . India has already resolved a more complicated Bangladesh border issue in the recent past . A responsive time bound action with diplomacy and pen can solve this . Let us dive in !



  • ITS NEW ! The dispute over the territoriality of Kalapani, was first raised by the Nepalese government only in 1998.
  • POLITICAL MOTIVES : It was for domestic political reasons.
  • REVISED MAPS : The dispute was revived in November 2019 when India published a revised political map showing the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.


  • TRADE AMBITIONS : The Nepalese were proving to be a hindrance in allowing the British to realise their trade ambitions with Tibet in early 19th century.
  • WAR : November 1, 1814, the British declared war on Nepal.


  • BEFORE TREATY OF SUGAULI : The Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in the west to the Teesta river in the East.
  • AFTER THE SUGAULI TREATY : The Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.
  • TERRITORY GIVEN UP : Declined to the Raja of Nepal all claim to or connection with the countries lying to the west of the River Kali.
  • LOST REGION :  Thus , Nepal lost the regions of Kumaon -Garhwal in the west and Sikkim in the east.
  • According to Article 5, the King of Nepal gave up his claims over the region west of the river Kali

  • BRITISH BORDER DESIGN : Consequently, the river Kali marked the western border of Nepal.
  • NON CONSENSUS :  However, there is no clear consensus on what is the precise location of the river Kali, giving rise to the dispute .
  • WORKING GROUP : The Nepal-India Technical Level Joint Boundary Working Group was set up in 1981 to resolve boundary issues, to demarcate the international border, and to manage boundary pillars.

 RESULT OF THE COMMITTEE : By 2007, the group completed 98% of the boundary, all except the two disputed areas of Kalapani and Susta.


  • ROOT OF THE ISSUE : The bone of contention is the Kalapani-Limpiadhura-Lipulekh trijunction between Nepal-India and China.
  • REGIONAL BOUNDARIES : Located on the banks of the river Kali, the Kalapani territory lies at the eastern border of Uttarakhand in India and Nepal’s Sudurpashchim Pradesh in the West.

 India claims the area is part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district, while Nepal believes it to be part of its Dharchula district.


  • CONCERNS ON LIPULEKH AGREEMENT : India and China were in clear violation of Nepal’s concerns during the 2015 Lipulekh agreement between India and China which renewed India’s Mansarovar pilgrimage connection.
  • NEPAL’s CONCERN : Neither side consulted Nepal or sought its opinion.


  • DEMARCATION OF RIVER KALI : According to Nepal’s experts, the east of the Kali river should begin at the source of the river.
  • INDIA’s STAND : The source according to them is in the mountains near Limpiyadhura, which is higher in altitude  India on the other hand says the border begins at Kalapani which India says is where the river begins.
  • RIVER CHANGES ITS COURSE :The situation is further exacerbated by the shifting course of the Mahakali river in the area .


  • RELIGIOUS REASON : – For Kailash Mansarovar yatra.
  • STRATEGIC REASONLipulekh is strategically located pass as it is nearest to the heart of the Indian state or the National Capital Region and can be of particular concern in case of an armed conflict with China.
  • BORDER SURVEILLANCE : The weakly guarded passes were a major vulnerability during the 1962 war.
  • VULNERABILITY : Thus India does not want to take chance when security of the state is challenged .
  • HISTORICAL PROOF :Former Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad says the region was always a part of India and India’s claims to the area are based on British Indian maps dating back to the 19th century.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 


  • AGREEMENT : Formally approve the strip maps.
  • PERMANENT DEMARCATION : Resolve the two remaining disputes of kalapani and Susta Demarcate the entire India Nepal boundary, and speedily execute the work of boundary maintenance.
  • AVOID FRUITLESS COMMITTEE : Cartographic disputes, especially fixing the source of a boundary river involving watershed, are not easy to resolve as evidenced by the fruitless labour of the Joint Technical Committee.
  • POLITICAL RESOLUTIONS : Both the countries can strengthen diplomatic ties by joint resolutions on table for more equity and prosperity during the times of pandemic.

EX:India has successfully resolved far more intractable border issues with Bangladesh not so long ago, covering both the land and maritime boundaries.

The India Nepal border issues appear more easily solvable.


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