India and Nepal are coordinating on a real time basis to minimise the damage due to flooding this monsoon season, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday, amid reports that the Himalayan nation is obstructing flood prevention-related works along the border with Bihar.
The MEA’s assertion comes days after Bihar’s Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha said repair of embankments along the Indo-Nepal border in the state has been adversely affected as barricades put up by the neighbouring country is hindering personnel from crossing over to complete the work.
Asked about the issue at a media briefing, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said there is already an existing bilateral mechanism between India and Nepal with regard to flooding and inundation works.
“The embankment and anti-erosion works have already commenced,” he said, adding that works are already underway on some of the major rivers along the India-Nepal border,
“Both sides are coordinating on a real time basis to minimise the damage due to flooding and inundation in this monsoon season,” Srivastava said.
On the issue of Nepal amending its Constitution to update its new political map featuring areas which India maintains belong to it, Srivastava said, “We have made our position clear on the issue and would not like to add anything.”
India had termed the move as “untenable” and asserted that artificial enlargement of territorial claims by Nepal is not based on historical facts or evidence.
Asked about reports of problems in trade and supplies at the Kakarbhitta border point, the MEA spokesperson said trade and supplies are going on without any hindrance between the two countries, including at the Kakarbhitta-Panitanki border.
“The two countries have extensive trade relations. Our bilateral trade is growing despite the lockdown. In fact in the month of May it surpassed USD 300 million,” Srivastava said.
“Despite the present challenging times of COVID-19, we have facilitated continuous and smooth flow of trade and supply of essential goods to Nepal,” he asserted.
Asked about the proposal to amend Nepal’s Citizenship Act that would require a foreign woman married to a Nepali national to wait seven years for getting naturalised citizenship, Srivastava said, “We have seen the reports on this. People of India and Nepal share deep-rooted and familial bonds. These bonds reflect the close civilizational and cultural linkages between our two countries.”
He refused to comment on reports of Chinese encroachment of Nepalese territory.
The India-Nepal bilateral ties are under strain due to the map row. In 2015, India’s relations with Nepal came under severe strain following the economic blockade.
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