Bonhomie seal on border irritants

Kathmandu,November 25, 2008

Nepal and India today ‘handled with care some irritants’ as the respective foreign ministers reviewed with satisfaction the progress made in bilateral relations since the Prime Minister’s maiden visit to New Delhi in mid-September. “We have agreed to resolve the longstanding border disputes between the two countries at various places, including Kalapani and Susta through further talks,” Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters after the meeting with his counterpart Upendra Yadav. “Differences and divergent views on Susta and Kalapani will be resolved. Officials from both the sides will meet and solve this soon,” said Mukherjee. Mukherjee said 98 per cent work had been complete as far as border dispute were concerned. “One or two corrective measures suggested by Nepal will be carried out shortly. Plans are afoot to unveil a new border map that will be signed by plenipotentiaries of both the nations,” he added. The foreign ministers also agreed to the return of the Koshi to its original alignment by March. Sections of the East-West highway damaged due to this year’s flood fury will also be repaired. India has offered to correct Nepal’s trade imbalance. New Delhi has urged Kathmandu to ensure investor-friendly environment. The extradition treaty, signed six years ago by the foreign secretaries, also came up for discussion during the bilateral meeting. The treaty encompasses provision for the extradition of third country nationals as demanded by India. It will come into effect once the foreign ministers sign the agreement.

Nagarkot faces closure during peak season

The Maoist-affiliated workers’ union has threatened to close all hotels and resorts in Nagarkot, a tourist hub, from tomorrow afternoon. “We have issued an ultimatum on the hotels’ management till 11 am tomorrow to fulfill our one-point demand. If they failed to do so, we are compelled to resort to closure of all establishments,” threatened PurushottamGautam, secretary, Bhaktapur district committee, All Nepal Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union (ANHRWU), a Maoist-affiliated union. The union has demanded Rs 1,300 hike in salary of all the workers. The demand has been turned down by the owners, who are willing to comply with the minimum wages as per the law. According to DipakLamichhane, secretary, NagarkotNaldum Tourism Development Committee (NNTDC), the hotel owners have decided to provide minimum wage of Rs 3,050 and allowance Rs 1,550. Earlier, it was Rs 2,200 and Rs 1,100 for the unskilled workers. “There is no specific rule that stipulates the increment. The union’s demand is unilateral. We are yet to reach a consensus on this,” said Gautam. At least 40 hotels and resorts in Nagarkot are likely to hit hard by the stir.