KATHMANDU, Nov 22: Tatopani border, a major trading point between the China and Nepal, has come to halt since the devastating April 2015 earthquake destroyed the infrastructures at the transit point.
Despite various efforts, the deserted face of one of the busiest trade route on Nepal has not seen progress. A majority of youths of Tatopani have gone abroad for employment. And, several business owners and local traders have accused China of dawdling to reopen the border.
As the federal and provincial elections are only a few days away, the voters of Sindhupalchowk have made the resumption of trade through the border point their major agenda. Meanwhile, election candidates are trying to woo voters by assuring that they would make concrete efforts to resume the Tatopani border, if they win election.
In the election interaction programs campaigned by the Reporters’ Club Nepal, candidates of democratic alliance have accused Chinese government of showing no interest in reopening of the border.
Meanwhile, left alliance candidate have claimed that the border would be opened a day after the CPN-UML Chair KP Oli becomes the prime minister of Nepal.
Pashupati Shumsher JB Rana, Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party- Democratic, during an election interaction program said that China has given reopening of the border less priority despite several requests for Nepal government. He even accused China of not willing to extend support in the development of Nepal.
Four prime ministers have led the government since the earthquake.
The then prime ministers KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal had asked the Chinese side to reopen the Tatopani-Khasa (Zhangmu) border point. Nepal has also been raising this issue in all other meetings with the Chinese side.
China had also carried out seismological study of Khasa owing to regions’ vulnerability of earthquakes. But, however, China has not yet clearly responded on why the trade route has not been reopened.
The Tatopani border, opened in 1970, was an important trade route between Nepan and China. The Tatopani customs used to collect more than 6 billion revenue annually. The closure of Tatopani border point along the highway has also resulted in the decline of the number of tourists bound for Kailash Mansarovar vie the route. Around 15,000 Indian pilgrims travel to Mansarovar via Araniko Highway and Tatopani check post during the high season—from May to September.