Kathmandu, January 19
The government has amended the Distribution Bylaw of Petroleum Products requiring all petrol pumps in the country to upgrade their standards.
As per the new amendments in the bylaw, existing fuel pumps across the country will have to upgrade to minimum standards like availability of toilets (women, men and disabled-friendly), drinking water facility, open spaces, enough parking area, proper distribution and sales office, and safety standard fulfilment, among others within a period of four months from the date of the new bylaw coming into effect.
There are around 2,500 petrol pumps across the country.
The Ministry of Supplies (MoS) passed the amendment draft of the distribution bylaw on January 6.
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has said amendment of the bylaw was necessary to make the document relevant, ensure effective distribution mechanism of petroleum products to customers and bring fuel stations in the country up to the standard.
In a bid to ensure that existing fuel pumps maintain minimum standards within the given timeframe, the new bylaw states that the government will monitor all fuel stations after the set deadline.
NOC will reduce regular supply of petroleum products by 50 per cent to any fuel station that has not met the minimum standard and the fuel station will be given a one-month time to upgrade, according to the new bylaw.
Refilling stations that do not meet the set standards even by the second deadline will have the supply reduced by 75 per cent and NOC will scrap the distribution licence of the fuel pump that does not adopt government standards by the sixth month — mid-July.
Similarly, the new bylaw has also envisaged setting up a high-tech ‘Model Petroleum Pump’ of international standards in the country. Interested companies and private sector can construct such fuel stations under the design and standards provided by the government.
Meanwhile, petroleum dealers have criticised the government for amending the distribution bylaw without consulting them.
“The abrupt amendment in the bylaw and concept of ‘Model Pump’ hints that the government is trying to disrupt the regular business of petroleum dealers, as a huge budget would be needed to meet the new standards set by the government,” Lilendra Pradhan, president of Nepal Petroleum Dealers Association (NPDA) said, adding that the government should revise the bylaw again and incorporate provisions that are friendly to the dealers and ensure overall growth of petroleum sector of the country.
Consequences of flouting the bylaw
A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.