India open to talks with Maoists in Nepal over border treaty: Pranab

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Kalimpong, May 18 (UNI) India is open to talks with Maoists in Nepal, who have long been demanding the scrapping of 1950 Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here today.

''Even before coming to power, Maoists had an agenda of scrapping the Indo-Nepal treaty and now that they have gained power of the state, they have resumed their demand,'' he said, adding the question of participating in a dialogue would, however, arise only if Nepal took the initiative in this regard.

Inaugurating the 13.44MG capacity open ground water reservoir that was set up with an investment of Rs 463.93 lakh at Algarah in Kalimpong under Darjeeling district, Mr Mukherjee said most countries were placing more importance on potable water, the sources of which were limited.

On the sidelines of the project, he also urged Chief Secretary of West Bengal Amit Kiran Deb to make sure that reservoirs being built here were duly maintained, as building them alone would not solve the water crisis in the state.

The Centre had given adequate importance to potable water in the 11th Five Year plan, he said, adding it was concerned over the presence of arsenic in water in some parts of the state.

Mr Mukherjee also appreciated the work done by the state government in removing arsenic from water but added that a lot more needed to be done.

Meanwhile, condemning the acts of violence in Panchayat elections in West Bengal, the senior Congress leader termed the incidents "unfortunate".

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