Nepal mulls token system to tackle fuel shortage

Kathmandu, Sep 27 (IANS) With Nepal reeling under a severe shortage of fuel and other essential items in the wake of an alleged undeclared blockade from the Indian side, the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) was on Sunday mulling introducing a token system for distribution of petroleum products to consumers.

With fuel stocks running low, the Nepal government has begun implementing the odd-even transportation system from Sunday for all types of vehicles, except those used for essential supplies. It means vehicles with odd registration numbers can ply on odd dates of the month while those with even plate numbers can operate on even dates.

International airlines too have been asked to refuel planes abroad due to insufficient stocks at Nepal Oil Corporation’s depot at Tribhuvan International Airport here.

State-run petroleum stations have been rationing fuel to transporters, forcing people to form long queues in front of petrol stations run by the army and police.

Only three oil tankers left India for Nepal on Sunday from Jamuniha entry point of Nepal-India border in Banke district, apart from two truckloads of potato and one of tomato. Officials said India was allowing only those essential items and food that could rot if left stranded.

Expressing concern over obstruction in border trade, Nepal’s ministry of foreign affairs on Sunday expressed concern over the unnecessary delay in the movement and clearance of Nepal-bound cargo vehicles on the Indian side of the border.

In a statement, the ministry said the delay had led to a significant decline in the flow of essential goods into the Himalayan nation, adding that the supply of essentials had witnessed a reduction since September 23 despite the fact that the security situation in Terai region had remained the same or even improved gradually.

The Nepal LP Gas Industries Association said none of the refuelling plants had any cooking gas stock due to an “embargo” imposed by India.

The diplomatic and political standoff continues for the past four days as India expressed reservation over some provision of the new constitution promulgated in the Himalayan country on September 20.

While Nepal politicians have been accusing India of imposing an unofficial embargo, New Delhi has expressed concern over the situation in Nepal’s southern plains, adding that India had not imposed any embargo and difficulties faced by vehicles in crossing the India-Nepal border were due to the unrest in the Himlayan nation.

Meanwhile, reports in Nepali media said sections of student organisations had urged local cable operators not to broadcast Indian TV channels. Student organisations in Chitwan districts have banned broadcast of Indian channels to protest against Indian “highhandedness”.

A breakaway faction of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), led by Netra Bikram Chand, said his party would ban Indian movies, Indian vehicles and TV channels within Nepali territory.

Some Nepali parties staged a protest in front of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu against the alleged undeclared embargo by India.

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