EDITORIAL: Diversify imports

The government should explore domestic sources of energy, including petroleum products, increase and promote use of electricity even for transportation

The Parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee has taken several decisions to help boost energy security in the country. On Monday it directed the government to draft a policy on national energy security, including a policy of coordination with other related government agencies as well as the private sector. Also pertinent to the matter of energy security is the overwhelming dependence Nepal has on a single country for the supply of it. The committee has rightly begun discussions on cutting Nepal’s dependence on foreign countries for energy and food requirements. A few days ago, another committee had directed the government to take initiatives to import petroleum products from third countries to ease the oil crunch Nepal is facing.  The directives of these committees need to be heard and acted upon without delay, first, to ease the present hardship, and second, to avoid a similar hardship for the Nepalis in the future if for any reasons whatsoever the vital supply lines are cut off from our sole supplying country. In the past too, Nepal had faced prolonged hardship caused by the obstruction of the supply of petroleum and other essential products.

But no government and no political party, particularly after the restoration of the multiparty system in the country in 1990, learnt any lessons. Instead, after assuming power from the autocratic government, the multi-party government, and thereafter, successive governments, made any efforts to diversify the sources of supply of such strategic commodities. They even trashed the then ongoing efforts by the Panchayat government to diversify Nepal’s sources of oil supply, particularly by importing it from our northern neighbor. The lack of promptness seen in moving ahead to reconstruct the Kodari road damaged by the April 25 major earthquake and its aftershocks and the various landslides that followed puts the government in a poor light. To diversify trade and minimize dependence for strategic commodities on any single source or country is the policy of every government anywhere in the world.

However, in Nepal, our politicians have for some strange fear or for their lack of foresight or for their narrow interest always ignored the need for diversifying imports of strategic commodities. And oil is a strategic commodity which has been used as a political weapon by one or the other country, including the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in the past. Looking after Nepal’s vital interests is the duty of the government of Nepal, and in this respect, successive governments and our political parties have made a costly mistake for so long. Now is the time to realize this grievous mistake and take prompt corrective action. At the same time, the government should also explore domestic sources of energy, including petroleum and gas deposits, increase and promote use of electricity for cooking and transportation. A government incapable of keeping its vital supply lines always open can hardly be said to be independent, and for that matter, responsible to its people.

Useful app

The Metropolitan Police Office has launched a mobile app called Hamro Police which has been highly useful to control crime within and outside the Kathmandu Valley. The app launched in July enables the users within the Valley to quickly report crime incidents, road accidents and public complaints to the police through smart phones. The police have also been able to arrest persons spreading rumours about posting fake incidents of bomb blasts in Biratnagar and an offer of selling petrol on higher prices in Dang on the facebook walls.

The smart phone users can report any kind of crimes, road accident or even lodge a public complaint with pictorial and documentary evidence. The app can pin-point the location of such crime or accident, and the police can take an immediate action. The app is user-friendly and it can also help develop relation between the people and the police in maintaining law and order in society. After this app was launched the police have been able to make scores of arrests from the spots. But people are advised not to misuse the app by posting fake or unverified information giving unnecessary trouble to the law enforcing body.