Disruptions likely till Dashain festival

India is in a ‘wait and watch’ mood with regard to easing supplies

Kathmandu, October 8

Assessing that disruptions at Nepal-India border checkpoints are likely to continue until Dashain, the government decided to call for a global tender to manage the fuel crisis during the major festive season of Dashain, Tihar and Chhath, highly placed sources told The Himalayan Times.

“Whatever you call it — disruption or obstruction or blockade — it is deliberate,” a top official seeking anonymity told THT. “What we have now concluded is that we may go days or weeks or even months without smooth supply of essential goods and petroleum products.”

Nepal Oil Corporation, the state-oil monopoly, today called urgent bidding to supply various petroleum products for 15 days. The prospective bidder can supply fuel via land or air route — due to disruption on the southern land routes, NOC stated.

Talking to THT, officiating Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi said uncertainty about when supply would be smooth from the Nepal-India border points looms large as protests are continuing.

“Diplomatic effort will continue. We hope the supply will resume early,” he told THT.

Another official stated that the Indian side was in a ‘wait and watch’ mood with regard to easing supplies and it’s closely following the progress of ongoing dialogue between the government and agitating Madhesi parties.

At a press briefing in New Delhi today, Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India Vikas Swarup claimed that delay in freight was entirely due to “unrest, protests and disruptions” on the Nepali side of border.

“There is no blockade by India against Nepal — either official or unofficial,” he said.

Responding to a query, he asserted that the disruption would continue until a political solution was reached in Nepal on the issues raised by agitating Madhesi parties.

Swarup even claimed that a few Indian freight staffers were beaten or abused at various border checkpoints at the Nepali side. A foreign ministry official, however, categorically refuted the allegation. He suggested that Nepali political parties find a solution with the spirit of reconciliation and compromise.

Swarup also said Nepal as a sovereign country was free to bring petroleum products from anywhere in the world, including China. Responding to a query during media briefing at MEA in New Delhi, he, however said, there are very deep-rooted historical, social, cultural and civilisational ties between India and Nepal, which may be lacking in Nepal’s relations with other countries.