The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has constructed at least nine buildings on the Nepal side of the Nepal-China border in the remote Humla district in Karnali province of Nepal.
Sources confirmed to TOI that the encroachment – which happened around 2 km from the border in the Lapcha-Limi area of Namkha gaupalika (rural municipality) of Humla – was first spotted almost a month ago by Vishnu Bahadur Lama, chairman of the Namkha municipality.
The sources said that Lama was not permitted to visit the area by PLA soldiers who were also stopping local Nepalese villagers from entering the area where the buildings are located. He thereafter reported the matter to local district officials who constituted a team to visit the area between August 30 and September 9. The team recently submitted its report to the Nepalese ministry of home affairs and ministry of foreign affairs. TOI tried to contact the chief district officer of Humla, Chiranjeevi Giri to ascertain the contents of the report but he could not be reached.
Sources said that China has been making inroads into the Lapcha-Limi area for several years. “The area borders the Tibet Autonomous Region and is a strategic location which offers a clear view of Kailash Mansarovar. Almost 10 years ago, when a road in the area was being built, China had constructed a building in Lapcha-Limi. When Nepal objected, China said that it was a veterinary centre that was being built for goods-carrying animals and would benefit people on both sides of the border,” a source said. He added that “since Lapcha-Limi is in a remote area and Nepalese administration does not have a very effective presence here, no one knows when the one building mushroomed into nine buildings.”
Another Nepal-based source who is familiar with the socio-economic landscape of the area told TOI that most people in the Lapcha-Limi area as well as other parts of Humla are dependent on work at the Taklakot mandi in the Tibet Autonomous region. “The Taklakot mandi, situated at an altitude of 17,500 feet, is the epicentre of the cross-border trade between India and China which happens for around five months from June to October every year and many Nepalese go to Taklakot during the trading period and work for the Tibetan traders there. So they have been primarily dependent on China for employment,” he said.
Since the past few months, there have been reports of China allegedly diverting the course of rivers while constructing roads in the Tibet Autonomous Region as a result of which some of the rivers flowing into Nepal have altered course, allowing China to occupy the land near these rivers claiming it to be part of its territory.
Meanwhile, a leader of the Nepalese Congress who hails from the Humla area told TOI on phone that his party will be putting pressure on the Oli government to take back the land occupied by the Chinese. “We have urged them to resolve the matter with China by holding talks with them and will continue to put pressure on them,” said the leader who did not wish to be named. (TOI )