Kathmandu, September 12 A delegation of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) — the largest umbrella body of the private sector — today, met Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to inform the hardships being faced by the business people due to the protests in Tarai. A prolonged political protest in the Tarai region has hit hard the country’s fragile economy, which has been shattered by the devastating earthquake of April 25 and subsequent powerful aftershocks. A delegation led by FNCCI President Pashupati Murarka requested the prime minister and other Cabinet ministers to create a conducive environment to operate businesses and thereby safeguard the economy. “There has been a sharp slowdown in the country’s economic activities due to the strikes and protests in the Tarai since a month,” Murarka told the prime minister, adding, “If the current situation prolongs, the business people will have to face tougher times than they did during the time of the earthquake.” Industries of the Tarai region, which have been shut down due to the strikes, are also at risk of physical attacks by the protesters. Continued protests in the Tarai have posed security threat to the industries of the Tarai region and protesters have vandalised around a dozen industries in the Sunsari-Morang and Lumbini corridor. The protesters had thrown petrol bombson some industries with the aim of damaging physical property, as per reports. “The sector as a whole is incurring huge losses as businesses have been forced to remain shut,” said Murarka. Trucks and containers loaded with imported goods are stranded at various border points due to the rising insecurity along the highways. Similarly, Nepal-bound cargoes laden with third-country imports have been stuck at the Kolkata port, for which the importers are having to pay high demurrage charges. Normally, the rail-cargoes need to be evacuated within 14 days of landing at the port and the cargoes that arrive via road within a week. Due to the strikes, transporting industrial, manufacturing and agricultural commodities to the market has become next to impossible in the Tarai region and reports have begun trickling in about supply crunch of essential commodities in various parts of the country, as per FNCCI. “Livelihood of the common people and workers has also been affected as the strikes have deprived them of the opportunity of earning a living.” The FNCCI chief also informed the prime minister that they had already met and urged the agitating political parties to resolve theissues through talks and requested the prime minister to create afavourable environment fordialogue with the agitating forces. Murarka further clarified the stance of FNCCI that it is in favour of the constitution writing process to be concluded at the earliest. “We need strong security to operate our businesses so that weare able to pay our staff, repay our loans to the banks and submit taxes to the government,” Murarka added. In the meeting with the FNCCI delegation, Prime Minister Koirala said that constitution delivery process has been halted for two days in a bid to convince the agitating parties to come back to the Constituent Assembly. “The government and major political parties have been making the best effort to resolve the issues and called the agitating parties for dialogue,” Koirala told the FNCCI team, adding, “In a democracy,we have to seek solutions through dialogues rather than protests and vandalism.” The prime minister also ensured that the government will provide security to operate businesses,industries and transportation of goods to facilitate the business people of the country.