Black-marketing of fuel rampant

Thori (Parsa), December 2

At a time when the country is reeling under acute fuel shortage, Parsa’s Thori has become a hub of fuel black-marketing.

As per sources, around 1.5 lakh litres of fuel and hundreds of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders are being sold here through illegal channels daily. Interestingly, all this is being done under the nose of the police and the staff of the chhoti customs.

While most of those involved in the malpractice are Indian nationals, their main customers and protectors are Nepalis.

Thori lies about 70 km northwest of Birgunj and around 85 km southeast of Narayangarh.

According to the locals, a large number of vehicles from as far as Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Pokhara and Hetauda reach Thori to buy fuel in the black market. Black-marketing is not limited to Thori and private households in the adjoining areas of Janaki Tola, Subarnapur, Nirmalbasti, Bijayapur and Brahmasthan are involved in it.

Dhruva Yadav of Dige Shikarpur of India admitted to his involvement in black-marketing of fuel. “Bringing fuel from across the border involves risk, so we are charging more than the actual price,” he said, adding diesel and petrol are being sold at Rs 130 and Rs 150, respectively, while an LPG cylinder is being sold for up to Rs 5,000.

Though there is a security check-point at Bhikhanathori of Pashchim Champaran in Bihar, personnel posted there turn a blind eye towards the smugglers.

People residing in the bordering Indian territories are the ones involved in black-marketing of fuel. They buy fuel from nearby Indian petrol stations in Jamuniya, Narkatiyagunj and other places and sell it for a profit in Thori.

“Hundreds of people are involved, as one can easily cross over to Nepal carrying up to 500 litres of fuel a day,” revealed Bhupendra Chaudhary of Khatara village in India.

But fuel-starved residents of Nepal are only too happy to pay extra. Dil Bahadur Giri, along with nine others, came to Thori from Tanahun by hiring a truck for Rs 20,000. “Fuel crunch has made it difficult for us to operate vehicles and cook food.

Though the price is high, at least we’re returning with some fuel,” he said.

The chhoti customs in Bihar and the Armed Police Force temporary base camp in Thori have done little to check the illegal trade. It is mandatory for every four-wheeler that comes to Thori to register with the base camp.

Going by the number of registered vehicles, it can be surmised that daily 1.5 lakh litres of fuel is being sold at Thori.

But the actual transaction is even more than that, as thousands of two-wheelers also come here.