Kathmandu, February 7
With the re-opening of Birgunj-Raxaul trade route 135 days after the border blockade was enforced by agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front on Friday, Nepal Oil Corporation expects fuel supply from Raxaul depot of Indian Oil Corporation to resume from Monday.
NOC, which is preparing to dispatch fuel tankers to Raxaul depot tomorrow, has written to IOC to manage necessary procedures to dispatch fuel tankers via Raxaul-Birgunj check point.
IOC had assigned depots other than Raxaul to give fuel to NOC since the start of the border-blockade and the Birgunj route was completely closed for 135 days. Supply of fuel was adversely affected after the Raxaul depot stopped providing fuel to NOC tankers.
IOC’s Raxaul depot caters to over half of Nepal’s fuel supply. “If Raxaul depot starts refilling NOC’s tankers as during the normal times, we will be able to smoothen supply in the country within 15 to 20 days,” said Sushil Bhattarai, acting deputy managing director of NOC.
NOC will be sending 70 tankers to bring fuel from Raxaul depot tomorrow. During normal times Raxaul refills over 150 tankers a day. “NOC will place adequate tankers on this route from Tuesday after observing the situation on Monday,” said Bhattarai.
IOC has extended refilling facility to NOC’s tankers from six depots Raxaul, Barauni, Betalpur, Gonda, Banthara and Siliguri. Raxaul Depot caters to 2,500 to 3,000 kilolitres of fuel a day.
IOC has marginally increased supply from other depots since the last two months, as Birgunj remained closed longer than other trade routes.
IOC has been supplying 1,100 kl from Barauni, Betalpur (700kl), Gonda (500 to 600 kl), Banthara (150 to 200 kl) and Siliguri (250 kl). IOC, however, has not refilled tankers from Gonda depot since last week, according to NOC.
“Consistent supply from all the depots of IOC, including Raxaul, is must to normalise supply situation in the country,” said Bhattarai.
Nepal has been receiving only 40 per cent of LPG that NOC used to receive earlier. At least 60 bullets need to be refilled a day from IOC refineries to meet the country’s LPG demand.
It will take one more month for LPG supply to normalise, according to NOC sources. The country’s monthly demand of cooking gas hovers around 30,000 tonnes a month.
The Barauni refinery of IOC caters to 50 per cent of the country’s demand in normal times and the remaining is met through supply from Haldia and Mathura refineries.
According to NOC, Barauni refinery has been refilling about 15 gas bullets with a capacity of 18 tonnes each. Haldia and Mathura refineries refill 20 bullets and 10 bullets, respectively, during normal times.
Distribution of half-filled cooking gas cylinders will continue till the supply from IOC normalises, states NOC.
Over 800 vehicles enter via Birgunj
Birgunj, February 7
With opening of Birgunj border entry point, vehicles loaded with daily essentials and other goods have started entering the country via the customs point. However, not a single fuel tanker entered the country today.
Birgunj Customs Office spokesperson Sushil Sharma said more than 800 heavy vehicles had entered the country till this evening via the entry point since the border opened two days ago.
Sharma said the customs office collected almost 80 million rupees as import duty on Sunday alone.
Three gas bullets and a diesel tanker that were filled before the blockade started more than four months ago had entered the country yesterday via the Birgunj-Raxaul border entry point.
Sharma said no fuel tanker entered today, as India had holidays on Saturday and Sunday. “To bring in the fuel via Birgunj entry point, we have to complete documentation work with Indian Oil Corporation,” Sharma said.
A version of this article appears in print on February 08, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.