Days after Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and unlocked the frozen bilateral dialogue amid the boundary dispute, Kathmandu is learnt to have proposed a meeting of the Boundary Working Group (BWG) in August end or early September.
This was conveyed to New Delhi after the Prime Ministers spoke to each other on August 15.
Led by the Surveyor General of India, the BWG is different from the foreign secretaries meeting that is being sought to discuss the Kalapani border dispute, but it is an important mechanism to review the boundary work.
The BWG is a joint agency constituted by the governments of India and Nepal in 2014 to carry out works in the fields of construction, restoration and repair of boundary pillars including clearance of ‘no-man’s land’ and other technical tasks.
The group so far has held six meetings. The last meeting was on August 28 last year in Dehradun.
In 2017, the two sides had finalised the comprehensive plan and modalities for execution and completion of boundary work in the next five years.
The BWG’s inputs are critical as they are given to the governments on the basis of field-level survey.
The August 15 phone call between Prime Ministers Modi and Oli, followed by the August 17 meeting between senior officials on Indian government-assisted projects in Nepal, have smoothened the way for further dialogue. The two sides can now use modern technology, including satellite imagery and drone survey, to review the work done at the BWG.
The BWG meeting follows from the leader-level phone conversation where they had “agreed to continue discussions on bilateral matters in the future”. This had signalled an outreach and willingness to take forward the conversation at the highest level to pragmatic conversation at the diplomatic level.
A meeting of the BWG, which is expected to take place through video conferencing, assumes significance in the wake of deterioration of ties between the two countries in the last three months.