Nepal Border Re-opened for Indians

NEW DELHI, Feb 22: Nepal on Monday reopened its border at Gaddha Chowk, an entry point in western Nepal near Banbasa area of Champawat for Indians but with Covid-19 restrictions, an official spokesman said.

Registration and Covid-19 test report are mandatory for entry into Nepal. The border was sealed from either side in March but the Indian government had given some relaxation to the Nepalese to cross the border.

“Nepal has re-opened the border for Indians but registration and Covid-19 test report are a must for the entry. Nepal has already launched an app for registration, Indians can register their names on the app or can register at the border before entry,” the official said.

The India-Nepal border had been sealed on March 23, 2020, in a bid to check the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nepal didn’t even allow its citizens to enter initially. Citizens of both countries were stuck and had to stay in relief or quarantine centres set up by either side by respective governments. Later, the Indian government provided some relaxation to the Nepalese to cross the border.

After 10 months, Nepal had announced that the Banbasa border to be opened on January 29 but under the standard operating procedure (SOP). The border, however, could not be reopened due to a lack of guidelines from the Nepalese government. Nepal Covid-19 crisis management centre in Kathmandu had launched an app a few days ago for Indians who intend to visit Nepal, said an official.

Indians will have to register their names on the app and will have to upload the required information such as a permanent address, mode of travelling, mobile number. The Nepalese authorities will only permit their entry after producing registration information and Covid-19 test reports. This exercise is being implemented in a bid to check the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nepal.

“Nepal Armed Police Force (NAPF) deployed at the border will monitor the movement and help in spot registration if someone fails to register on the app. Private vehicles will not be allowed but those for essential and emergency services will not be restricted,” the official said.

Notably, the Indian government had allowed Nepalese with Indian documents to cross the border during the lockdown period. They could cross over to Nepal between 6 to 10 am daily from the Banbasa entry point. Banbasa of Champawat is one among 19 notified entry points along the border.

The Nepalese ex-servicemen who had worked with the Indian security forces also suffered problems in drawing their pensions from Indian banks in bordering areas. They were given certain dates to cross the Indian borders and draw the pensions.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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