March 16, 2015
Korala in Nepal’s Mustang district, located 4,600 metres above sea level, stand between ridges dividing the world’s two largest rivers – the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. One of the oldest trading routes in the world, this is how salt entered Nepal from Tibet. That trade has vanished, and the main revenue earner for decades has been from tourism. With China’s Belt and Road Initiative new trade is starting to enter the town and the district.
The cars and infrastructure have delighted local residents, but the new restrictions on Nepali citizens entering the Tibetan region have led to a certain dilemma. The hopes – coupled with some unease – of the residents exemplify the way that Nepalis look towards China and its massive infrastructure building project. At the same time the focus on roads has had an impact on tourism, endangering the main local economy, spurring fears that the trade in the area may not bring economic well-being to locals. Video story by Ramesh Bhushal and Nabin Baral.