Nepal | July 11, 2020

EDITORIAL: Conspiracy of silence

The Himalayan Times
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It is the man in the street who wants to get the product – gas, petrol or diesel at the official rate who is bearing the brunt of the shortage

Some eight months afterward too, petroleum products, including liquefied petroleum gas, popularly called cooking gas, are still scarce. People have to queue up for hours to get a full cylinder of gas and just a few litres of petrol, when the dealers open their shops, and most of the time they remain closed. But even after all this hassle, there is no guarantee of getting the commodity, and many aspirants have to return empty-handed. As for the cooking gas, the common man has to get their empty cylinder deposited with the local gas dealer and pay the full amount of Rs.1, 400, the official price for a cylinder of gas, or if they have very good relations with the dealer, get a special coupon to get the gas when the full cylinders arrive at the depot concerned. Normally, after depositing the cylinders, the common consumer has to wait for two to three months to get the gas.

This hardship from the acute ‘shortages’ of the petroleum products and the hassle the hapless lot face are common sights these days. For five months of the unofficial blockade on Nepalese imports, including petroleum products, there was a real petro-crisis in the country, with smugglers and black-marketeers flourishing, and many made it big in the process. Hotels and restaurants and other outfits where gas is used were seen to have closed their shop or drastically cut back on their scale of operations or to have given only a skeleton fare for the consumers. But now that situation does not exist for them any longer. They are getting gas and diesel and petrol, so vehicles are running on the streets, hotels and restaurants are doing their business on a full scale, local goondas to holders of government posts – politicians and bureaucrats and those in the police – and other influential people are not starved of the supply of the petro-products. It is the man in the street who wants to get the product – gas, petrol or diesel – at the official rate who is bearing the brunt of the shortage.

Why? The government, the ministries concerned, and the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), the sole importer and distributor of the petroleum products throughout the country, have not told the people why. The blockade was lifted more than two months ago, and still the situation has not improved much for the general public. The political parties, whether in government or in the opposition or even those outside the Legislature-Parliament, have not raised their voice against the ‘shortages’; neither have the civil society, student organizations and the other bodies concerned? The common man is wondering whether it is a conspiracy of silence. The government agencies have not said that the supplier has not supplied enough quantities of the products, nor have they raised the issue strongly with the supplier or the government of the supplying country if the situation has mainly to do with the supply. Or have the government and the body politic as a whole lost all their sensitiveness to the most urgent public concerns? Don’t do they feel any sense of public responsibility? How long will this situation continue? Has the government any plan to end it anytime soon? It is time all who are concerned woke up to demand accountability seriously.

Old age homes

The elderly have to cope with many hardships. They can consider themselves fortunate if they have a family and relatives to take care of them. In the meantime, the state is doing little for them. The state should treat the senior citizens with the respect they deserve and to see to it that they can live a comfortable life. The elderly deserve a better deal and should be treated with due respect for the contributions they have made  when they were in their prime. The least we could do for them would be the construction of old age homes for them as demanded by the elderly citizens of Khotang district recently.

Most of the elderly now live retired lives and would like to keep in touch with their friends and acquaintances. Having  homes catering to the elderly would mean that they would be able to do so without having to go from one place to another in order to  share their experiences.  Moreover, the elderly could do with an increase in the social security allowance. This would not be doing them a favour for they are entitled to it. They are now in need of rest and also entertainment.

A version of this article appears in print on April 26, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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