Source: The Hindu
Manifest pedagogy: India and neighborhood relations is a hot topic for UPSC. The natural landscapes involved, interests of the nations concerned, diplomatic ties which they are engaged in all needs to be studied.
In news: The Defence Minister recently inaugurated a road route through Uttarakhand to reach Kailash Mansarovar.
Placing it in syllabus: India and neighbors
Static dimensions: Kailash Manasarovar
- About new route
- Strategic importance of the road
- Why is Nepal objecting it?
- Mount Kailash is a 6,638 m high peak in the Kailash Range, which forms part of the Trans-Himalaya in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
- The mountain is located near Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal.
- It is close to the source of rivers Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, Karnali also known as Ghaghara (a tributary of the Ganges) in India.
- Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred in four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
- In 2019, ‘Sacred Mountain Landscape and Heritage Routes’ (Indian side of Kailash Mansarovar) has been proposed for inclusion in Tentative List of World Heritage Sites of India, under the Mixed site category.
- The Kailash-Mansarovar road alignment is along the Kali river, which is the boundary between India and Nepal.
- The pilgrimage to Kailash and to the Mansarover lake is run exclusively by Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), a government organization, which works in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs of GOI and the Government of China.
About new route:
- In a video conference, the Defence Minister recently inaugurated a new 80-km road in Uttarakhand connecting the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- It has led to the opening of a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra, where the link road connects Dharchula, a town in Uttarakahand’s Pithoragarh to Lipulekh Pass (China border).
- Lipulekh Pass also known as Lipu-Lekh Pass/Qiangla or Tri-Corner is a high altitude mountain pass situated in the western Himalayas.
- It is an International mountain pass between India, China and Nepal.
- The new road is scheduled to be completed by December 2022.
- The Link Road is named as the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is carrying out the project.
Strategic importance of the new road:
- Pilgrims from India can reach Kailash Mansarovar through three routes, via Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Kathmandu in Nepal – all of which are long and arduous.
- The route via Uttarakhand involves three stretches–
The first stretch is from Pithoragarh to Tawaghat, the second is from Tawaghat to Ghatiabgarh and the third stretch is the 80 kms from Ghatiabgarh to Lipulekh Pass at the China border, which can only be traversed on foot. This stretch till the India-China pass takes five days to cover.
- The BRO is converting the second stretch into a double lane road, and is building a new road on the third stretch to allow vehicles.
- It has so far completed 76 km of the 80-km stretch and the last 4 km of road till Lipulekh Pass is expected to be completed by year end.
- The new road will significantly reduce the travel time for pilgrims (just two days by a vehicle).
- It is just a fifth of the distance when compared to other routes.
- It ensures that the majority of the travel is in India (84 per cent) as compared to other routes where 80 percent of the road travel is through China.
- The Ghatiabgarh-Lipulekh road was first approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2005 and revised in 2018 where CCS set December 2022 as the deadline.
Why is Nepal objecting it?
- Nepal claims that the Lipulekh pass comes under its territory and lies in the Dharchula district in Sudurpaschim Pradesh.
- It is marked by the Kalapani river, one of the headwaters of the Kali River in the Himalayas.
- Nepal has blamed that this unilateral act by India runs against the understanding reached between the two countries at the level of Prime Ministers in 2014 ( between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and (then) Nepal PM Sushil Koirala) that a solution to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation.
- However, according to India, the headwaters of the river are not included in the boundary.
- India has always considered Lipulekh as a tri-junction with the territory to the east of the pass as the Nepalese territory.
- Lipulekh has always been on the Indian map and Nepal hasn’t protested until now.
- China has also accepted that it belongs to India and hence it is allowing it as a route to Tibet.
((Note: India had closed Lipulekh from 1962 to 1991 due to the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The locals, Byansis of Kumaon, then used the Tinkar Pass for all their trade with Tibet)).
Mould your thought: Explain the strategic importance of the Kailash-Mansarovar route. Why is Nepal opposing the new road being built by India?