Kathmandu, June 18 (efe-epa).- Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Thursday ratified a constitutional amendment bill passed by the parliament to incorporate a new political map of the country into the national emblem, which includes areas on the western border claimed and administered by India.
The parliament secretariat had forwarded the bill to the president within a few hours after the upper house endorsed it through a unanimous vote on Thursday evening.
“The amendment bill has been authenticated by the president as per Article 274 (10) of the constitution of Nepal,” said a statement issued by Hari Prasad Dahal, spokesperson of the president’s office.
The bill to amend the constitution to update the new map, which depicts the Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani areas within Nepali territory, was tabled at the upper house on Sunday. All 57 voting members of the house voted for the bill.
Any amendment to the constitution requires the approval of two-thirds members from both the houses of parliament.
The bill had received unanimous support in the lower house on Saturday, with all the 258 members present voting in favor of it.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said while addressing lawmakers that the endorsement of the amendment bill was a milestone towards reclaiming Nepal’s land.
“Both the Houses showed unparalleled unity in endorsing the bill. This is a historic achievement for Nepalis,” said the prime minister.
The Nepalese cabinet had first issued a new political and administrative map of the country on May 20, incorporating the areas long-disputed with India.
Two days later, the government launched a bill seeking to amend the constitution to update the new map into the national emblem.
The move came after India on May 8 inaugurated a road going through Lipulekh to the Kailash Mansarovar area in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, a traditional pilgrimage site for Hindu devotees.
On June 13, India had reacted strongly after the lower house of Nepal’s Parliament passed the bill to redraw the map, calling it an “artificial enlargement of claims.”
“(The claim) is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also in violation of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
However, officials in Kathmandu say that India has repeatedly ignored Nepal’s overtures for dialog on the border.
Kathmandu says the new map is based on the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli between Nepal and the British colonial government, which defined the Mahakali River as Nepal’s western boundary with India.
However, both sides disagree on actual site of the river’s origin, with distinct definitions allowing them to claim the same territory.
The dispute comes at a time when India is witnessing heightened tensions with many of its neighbors, with 20 of its soldiers being killed on Monday night in a border clash with China, which has been seen as increasing its influence in Nepal, a landlocked Himalayan country which has traditionally depended on India for its trade and economy. EFE-EPA