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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Nepal angered by Indian dam
Map showing Lumbini
By Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu

The Indian Government has temporarily halted work on a dam close to Nepal's south-western border after Kathmandu expressed concern over its construction.

The Nepal Government has formally taken up the issue with the Indian Government through diplomatic channels.

Nepal's Water Resources Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhada
The Lotan Rasiyawal Khurd dam is being built on the Rivers Danav and Danda, which flow in to India from Nepal.

The construction is said to be aimed at checking flooding from these rivers which damages Indian villages during the monsoon.

Displaced people

Nepalese water experts say that dam will flood several villages in Nepal, including the birthplace of the Buddha.

Nepal valley
Nepal says villages will be flooded
The dam is due to be built less than a kilometre away from the border.

The Nepalese say it is in violation of international law which prohibits such construction within eight km of the border.

They fear that the proposed dam will effectively displace more than 100,000 people by blocking the natural flow of water.

Buddha threat

They say the village of Lumbini, where the Buddha was born, is one place under threat.

Buddhist temple
Lumbini is to become a major pilgrimage centre
The Nepalese Government has plans to develop Lumbini as an international tourism and pilgrimage centre.

Lumbini is already designated a leading world heritage site by Unesco.

Leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress party and the opposition have urged the government to speak to the Indian authorities to stop the construction.

The Nepalese Government says that it has taken up the issue with India.

The Water Resources Minister, Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, said in parliament that the Indian Government had now ordered a temporary halt to construction work until a technical team completes its assessment of the situation.

See also:

13 Jul 00 | South Asia
Airport at Budhha's birthplace
01 Dec 98 | South Asia
Nepal hosts world's Buddhists
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