The storage capacity for fuel should be built so as to last for at least three months’ supply of petroleum products
There seems to be no getting away from the perennial shortage of fuel causing hardships to the consumers. The only way out to ensure that there are no shortages is by ensuring that the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has sufficient storage capacity for petroleum products.
After the fuel crisis last year the concerned government agencies, the Ministry of Supply and the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the parliament, had instructed the NOC to do so but the corporation has been unable to do it.
In this direction, the fiscal budget for 2016-17 has made provisions for the development of such storage facilities. The NOC has been instructed to increase its storage capacity to 415,000 kilolitres from the present 72,000 kilolitres.
All the NOC has done so far is convert the kerosene storage tank into a petrol storing one.
The capital is again experiencing the shortage of fuel as it is not being supplied from Raxaual depot. Its supply has been halted temporarily for a week for cleaning the tank.
Till supply resumes from this depot petrol is being imported from Siliguiri to Biratnagar and Gonda to Nepalgunj to prevent the scarcity of fuel which is evident from long queues of motorists and motorcyclists at the petrol pumps in the capital.
This is clear proof that the country is highly vulnerable to even temporary disruptions in the supply of oil from the supplying country. The NOC’s lack of adequate storage facilities is to blame for this situation.
Since 2000 when the Thankot depot was brought into operation the daily requirement of fuel was around 100 kl daily. But now the demand has tripled and the present demand for the capital valley is around 250 kl. The depot in Thankot can store only 1,870 kl of petrol which is sufficient for only five days.
Possible areas for storage facility have already been identified by the government at Khiriereni of Tanahu, Battar of Nuwakot and Panchkhal of Kavre. NOC has at present 10 depots across the country. Despite this it is disheartening that even feasibility study of the possible depots has not be done so far.
It is likely that once the Raxual depot comes back into operation the NOC would be able to supply petrol as per demand.
However, it is foolhardy to depend solely on one source for the supply of fuel. As such, other sources from which fuel can be imported should also be identified. In this regard, the work on importing petroleum products from China as a second source of supply should be speeded up.
As the profit of NOC in the last two fiscal years is expected to be around Rs. 31 billion it should have sufficient resources to slowly expand its storage capacity by building depots at strategic places.
These days NOC is earning an additional revenue of around Rs one billion per month. The storage capacity for fuel should be built so as to last for at least three months’ supply of petroleum products.
The automatic adjustment of prices of petroleum products is now in place, which is a welcome development.
The NOC needs to strengthen its distributive mechanism and do away with its appalling inefficiency to ensure an uninterrupted supply of oil, whereas the government should do its part of the job to ensure that alternative sources of supply are tapped.
Streetlights are necessary as they light the way for pedestrians as well as for people using vehicles for their transport.
When the dark falls and matures, the lack of streetlights not only generally inconveniences people, it also leads to accidents as people cannot see well, and under cover of darkness crimes of all sorts tend to flourish, particularly when the criminally-minded people look for lone walkers, drivers and riders to rob them or to inflict physical harm on them.
Even the Kathmandu Valley has most of its streets yet to be lighted during the night.
Most of the lighted streets are powered by NEA-supplied electricity but some of them are solar-powered. The Bhaktapur Minicipality is reported to have begun installing solar street lights in inner city areas.
A lighted street will discourage would-be criminals from committing violence or crime when they are likely to be seen, informed on, or stopped by others. Non-solar streetlamps for a good part of the night are useless because of regular power outages. This problem can be taken care of by installing solar-power streetlights.
Solar lights will also save NEA’s power for other uses.
A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.
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