India rejects Nepal’s objections to link road for Kailash Mansarovar through Lipulekh pass

The crucial road at a height of 17,000 feet along the border with China in Uttarakhand was thrown open by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday. India: Road follows pre-existing route used by Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrims

India on Saturday rejected objections raised by Nepal over the inauguration of a new road to the Lipulekh pass along the border with China in Uttarakhand. The road section in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Saturday.

“The road follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement on Saturday.

The strategic link road connecting Lipulekh pass at a height of 17,000 ft was inaugurated by Rajnath Singh on Friday. With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through high-altitude terrain can now be avoided by the pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and the period of journey will also reduce by many days.


Kathmandu had earlier expressed “regret” over India’s “unilateral” decision of constructing road in a border area that has to be resolved between India and Nepal.

“This unilateral act runs against the understanding reached between the two countries including at the level of prime ministers and that a solution to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation,” Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said in a statement.

Nepal PM Oli and Prachanda, as co-chairmen of Nepal Communist Party (NCP), had called building the Lipulekh road during coronavirus pandemic “deplorable”.

A party statement said, “It is deplorable that this development has taken place at a time when the entire humanity is faced with unprecedented health crisis in the wake of coronavirus and all our efforts are concentrated on fighting against the pandemic.”

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday had inaugurated the 80-km road to ease the journey of Kailash-Mansarovar Yatris which would be curtailed to one week compared to two-three weeks it took earlier.

“The road originates from Ghatiabagarh and terminates at Lipulekh Pass, the gateway to Kailash-Mansarovar. In this 80-km road, the altitude rises from 6,000 to 17,060 ft. With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through treacherous, high-altitude terrain can now be avoided by the pilgrims of Kailash-Mansarovar,” said a statement by the Ministry of Defence.

While the government of Nepal re-emphasised on the need to have a foreign secretary-level dialogue to resolve the issue, the national political party NCP demanded that the construction be halted till the bilateral boundary issue is not resolved.

“The NCP calls for immediate halting of road construction work in that area by India and urges it to refrain from taking any activity that will further complicate the matter,” read the statement.

Saying that the act by New Delhi runs against the understanding reached between the two countries including at the level of prime ministers, Nepal foreign ministry said, “The government of Nepal remains committed to seek diplomatic solution to boundary issues on the basis of the historical treaty, documents, facts and maps, in keeping with the spirit of clothes and friendly ties between the two countries.”

The MEA spokesperson, meanwhile, reiterated India’s commitment to resolve all outstanding issues bilaterally. “India and Nepal have established mechanism to deal with all boundary matters. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing. India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue and in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal,” he said.


Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, which is a disputed territory between India and Nepal. Nepal stakes claims to the southern side of the pass, Kalapani, which connects to the border with Chinese trading town of Taklakot in Tibet.

This is not the first time that Nepal has flagged its objections to India’s moves in Lipulekh and engaging with China for an area that remains unresolved.

“It may be recalled that the government of Nepal had expressed its disagreement in 2015 through separate diplomatic notes addressed to the governments of both India and China when the two sides agreed to include Lipulekh pass as a bilateral trade route without Nepal's consent in the joint statement issued on 15 May 2015 during the official visit of the Prime Minister of India to China,” said Nepal’s foreign ministry.

India and Nepal are working to find convenient dates post the coronavirus pandemic for a foreign secretary-level meeting to discuss the issue.