Nepal map on new currency note threatens to reignite border row with India

Nepal has angered India by announcing a new NPR 100 currency note that shows territories claimed by its South Asian neighbour, reigniting a longstanding border dispute that has soured relations between the two countries in recent years.

Competing claims on Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas escalated into a bitter dispute in 2020 when India, with an eye on China, built a road to connect its northern Uttarakhand state with the strategic Lipulekh mountain pass.

When Kathmandu responded by publishing a new map showing the contested areas as lying inside Nepal’s borders, New Delhi protested that the “artificial enlargement” of Nepal’s claims was not based on historical fact or evidence and, therefore, wasn’t tenable.

The new map adds 335 square kilometres of land to Nepal.

Nepal, which unlike its neighbours was never under European colonial rule, locates its claims on Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh in the 1816 Sugauli treaty with the British Raj. However, the areas have been controlled by India since its war with China in 1962.

Nepal’s information and communications minister Rekha Sharma said the decision to print the new currency note was taken at a meeting chaired by prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday.

“The meeting of the council of ministers chaired by Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ took a decision to print the new map of Nepal that includes Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani in the NPR 100 denomination bank notes,” Ms Sharma said.

 (Nepal government)
(Nepal government)

The minister said the “redesign of the banknote of NPR 100” was approved to “replace the old map printed in the background of the bank note”.

The cabinet’s decision will be conveyed to the country’s central bank, Rastra Bank, which is expected to take up to a year to print and issue the new note.

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar criticised Kathmandu for taking a “unilateral” action while diplomatic talks to resolve the issue are ongoing.

“Our position is very clear. With Nepal, we are having discussions about our boundary matters through an established platform. In the middle of that they unilaterally took some measures on their side,” the minister said when asked about the development.