KATHMANDU: People light candles as they celebrate after the parliament approved a new national emblem with a controversial political map that includes strategic territories disputed with its giant neighbor India, in Kathmandu.—AFP

KATHMANDU: The upper house of Nepal’s parliament approved a new map of the country yesterday including land controlled by India, in a row that has strained ties between the South Asian neighbors.

India, which controls the region – a slice of land including the Limpiyadhura, Lipulkeh and Kalapani areas to the west of Nepal – has rejected the map, saying it was not based on historical facts or evidence. Members in the 59-seat National Assembly, or upper house, voted 57-0 in favor of a constitutional amendment bill seeking to replace the old map, chairman of the house Ganesh Prasad Timilsina said. The bill was passed by the lower house over the weekend. “We have enough facts and evidence and we’ll sit (with India) to resolve the dispute through diplomatic negotiations,” law minister Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe told parliament.

The new map requires President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s approval. The row over the map began last month after India inaugurated an 80-km (50-mile) road from the northern state of Uttarakhand to Lipulekh on the border with the Tibet region of China, about 19 km of which passes through the area Nepal says belongs to it.

The road cuts the travel time and distance from India to Tibet’s Mansarovar lake, considered holy by Hindus. Nepal says the land belongs to it as a river in the region formed its western border with India under an 1816 treaty with the British East India Company. Nepal, which was never a part of British India, and New Delhi differ over where the river originates. The disputed land, about 372 square km (144 square miles) in area, is strategically located at the tri-junction between Nepal, India and the Tibet region of China. India has kept a security presence in the area since a border war with China in 1962. — Reuters