EPG conducts second round discussion on 1950 India-Nepal treaty

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jan 12, 2018-

The Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations has concluded article-wise discussion on the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, during the sixth meeting of the EPG that began in New Delhi on Thursday.

The eight-member panel held a second-round discussion on the thorny issues on Thursday to arrive at a common position in the two-day meeting before proposing new measures. The issue had also figured in an earlier meeting of the EPG.

Besides discussing alternative proposals on each of the 10 articles, the EPG members also discussed management of the open and porous border between Nepal and India.

Calling it unequal, Nepal has pressed for scrapping of the treaty, urging the Indian side to replace it with a new one. But officials from the two countries differ on some articles of the treaty.

Rajan Bhattarai, a Nepali member on the EPG, said both the sides exchanged their respective views in Thursday’s meeting but no concrete suggestions were made. Both the sides had clearly discussed every article, possible alternatives and implications of new proposals.

“This is the second detailed discussion on the treaty, its provision and the practice. We’ll continue discussion on the matter in the next meeting,” Bhattarai said over phone from New Delhi.

The Indian side has accused the Nepali side of not doing enough homework or suggest alternatives to the treaty or its clauses saying that it was ready to replace the treaty with a new one if a convincing proposal comes from the Nepali side.

The effort at present was to narrow down the differences as several bilateral issues had been sorted while the team was close to writing its preliminary report.

Both the sides are said to have agreed on Thursday to do necessary homework on various treaty options and to come up with an agreeable position as time is running out for the panel.

Though the treaty and border management will continue to dominate the incoming two meetings, the EPG members on Friday will discuss and finalise the template of preparing a joint report that will be presented to both the governments in order to execute the suggestions and recommendations made by the group.

The EPG is tasked with reviewing bilateral ties, including disputed matters in the changed domestic, regional and global contexts, in their entirety.

The EPG will hold two more rounds of consultation by the time its term ends in July.

The eminent persons said other contentious issues are management of the border by fixing over 5,000 boundary pillars which are missing or damaged, identity cards used by citizens from both sides to cross over to the other country, the no-man’s land, and cross holding of properties.

For fixing the boundary pillars, clearing the no-man’s land and cross-holding of properties are being undertaken by the bilateral Boundary Working Group at the survey general’s level, said Bhattarai, stressing the need to speed up the task.

Officials from Nepal and India have agreed to install GPS-based boundary pillars but the scheduled task has not gathered the desired pace.

“We need to discuss with survey officials on completing the boundary works and suggest ways out for the disputed territory,” said Bhattarai.

Officials face a dilemma over the identity cards carried by travellers as two standards have been practised for those flying and taking a land route across the border.

The EPG has almost built common positions on trade, transit, commerce and socio-cultural issues, which are ready to be reported.

Published: 12-01-2018 08:20

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