India resumes sending food, fuel to shortage-stricken Nepal

KATHMANDU: Indian trucks carrying food and fuel began trickling into Nepal on Wednesday, a welcomed development for a nation grappling with shortages caused by a blockade during protests against the country's new constitution.

Nepal, a small Himalayan country, depends heavily on supplies from India, its giant neighbor.

Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Dhakal said about 100 Indian trucks, mostly carrying food, and five tankers loaded with oil and gas entered Nepal on Wednesday after a meeting between officials of the two countries.

Nepalese officials suggested that India was initially reluctant to send oil tankers. However, India accepted Nepal's plea after it said it would not accept food alone, Dhakal said.

"Indian officials want to send trucks carrying fruit, vegetables and other food items to Nepal as these items have begun to rot. But not fuel tanks. And we need fuel at this moment, not vegetables and fruit," Dhakal said.

Nepal has restricted the movement of vehicles due to the fuel shortages, with cars permitted to run only on alternate days. Pharmacies are also low on supplies of medicine.

Hundreds of oil tankers and trucks carrying medicine, sugar, salt, food and cooking gas cylinders are lined on the Indian side of the land border crossing point at Sunauli, 300 kilometers (200 miles) west of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

Many Nepalis accuse India of retaliating against their government for approving Nepal's new constitution, seen by New Delhi as discriminatory to an ethnic Indian community living in Nepal's border districts.

The Indian government denies the charge and blames weekslong protests in Nepal for the disrupted movement of oil tankers and food trucks.