Nepal has raised objections over India inaugurating a strategic link road connecting Lipulekh pass at a height of 17,000 feet along the border with China in Uttarakhand with Dharchula. Nepal's Foreign Ministry in a statement on its website said, "This unilateral act runs against the understanding reached between the two countries including at the level of the Prime Ministers that a solution to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation."
India's Foreign Ministry, replying to Nepal's statement on Saturday, said the road that was opened for use by pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra lies well within Indian territory.
"The recently inaugurated road section in Pithoragarh district in the state of Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India. The road follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Under the present project, the same road has been made pliable for the ease and convenience of pilgrims, locals and traders," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"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," the ministry said.
The 80-km-long road inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday is expected to help pilgrims visiting Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet.
After inaugurating the road via video conferencing, Mr Singh said pilgrims will now be able to complete their journey in one week instead of up to three weeks. The road originates at Ghatiabagarh and ends at Lipulekh pass, the gateway to Kailash-Mansarovar.
The Kailash-Mansarovar yatra involves trekking at high altitudes of up to 19,500 feet, under inhospitable conditions, including extreme weather and rugged terrain.
Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory - India as part of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Darchula district.