Essential services act invoked

Kathmandu, February 26:

The government has enforced an ordinance that gives it the power to act to ensure smooth supply of basic and essential goods and maintain essential services across the country.

The government can now impound means and materials, including those run by the private sector, to operate the essential services, according to the Home Ministry. The legal provision was invoked through an ordinance recently.

The essential services include hospitals, drinking water, electricity and fuel supply, solid waste management and air, water and land transportation.

The ordinance comes amidst acute fuel shortage as the majority of private oil tankers were reluctant to ferry petroleum products through the Birgunj customs, citing security concerns in the course of the Madhes agitation.

The government had issued the ordinance to amend the five-decade-old Essential Services Act during a high-level ministerial meeting held on Sunday, Local Development Minister Dev Gurung said. “The basic idea is to allow the government to take legal steps even against the private parties to ensure smooth supply of petroleum products and other essential commodities,” he added.

The Act has been amended to add a sub-article to allow “the government to take control of all means and vehicles, machineries, equipment and devices related to the essential services and run them in a way the government desires.

The ordinance stipulates six months of imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both if the concerned parties try to resist the government from impounding their goods.