EDITORIAL: An improved deal

The Nepalis have faced severe shortages of petroleum products occasionally and there was no remedy for the supplier’s failure to supply

The state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) have renewed the Supply Agreement for a period of next five years to be effective from April 1. The arrangement between the two corporations will expire this Friday. The heads of the two corporations inked the new agreement Monday that would, among other things, ensure the “continuous and uninterrupted” supply of hydrocarbon products to Nepal under any circumstances. Time and again such supplies have been obstructed for one reason or the other. With the new Supply Agreement in place Nepalis have much to cheer about. The hydrocarbon sector is one of the important areas of bilateral relations between Nepal and India. The new agreement also permits Nepal to import petroleum products from third countries so Nepal would not have to depend for their supply on a single country if the IOC fails to supply fuel as per the needs of Nepal.

Both the NOC and IOC reached the agreement to appoint an independent surveyor from a third county in all the depots of IOC from where Nepal takes the loading dealing with issues that are related to the fuel supply to Nepal. The IOC has also agreed to waive the interest levied on NOC for up to three days of delay in payment. Incidentally, the NOC pays the IOC twice every month. Marketing charges have also been reduced from the present 2.5 per cent to two per cent. Nepal stands to gain further as the IOC has committed to start supplying Euro standard fuel to Nepal as soon as possible, which would be conducive for the reduction of emissions from vehicles causing air pollution. Now focus is on the much awaited Raxual-Amlekhgunj pipeline petroleum projects. Also discussed was the status of the Motihari-Amlekhgunj pipeline project. It is expected that once these projects are completed it would further guarantee continuous and uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to Nepal. Meanwhile, as Nepal also imports LPG from India a similar pipeline for it is being mooted.

If the Supply Agreement is implemented to the full Nepalis can rest assured that there would be no scarcity of petroleum products from now. The IOC for its part would ensure the supply of fuel as per the demand of Nepal. Let us hope that with the new agreement reached the commoners in Nepal will no longer have to stay in serpentine queues in order to get their share of fuel, which has been a perennial problem hindering industrial growth in Nepal, among other things. We have come a long way since 1974 when the IOC initiated the supply of fuel to Nepal. However, the Nepalis have faced severe shortages of the petroleum products occasionally as they had been dealing with only one country to meet their demand and there was no remedy for the supplier’s failure to supply. The way the agreement was signed from the Nepali side raises one objection, that is, the NOC officials and Supplies Minister Deepak Bohara did not include Foreign Ministry officials at the time of signing the bilateral deal whereas the Indian Foreign Ministry officials were present during the agreement. The government should take up this issue with those concerned and in the future such wrong acts should not be committed again.

Help is needed

Sometimes we come to read or hear about some person chained or imprisoned in a house for years. And almost always, they happen to be insane or mentally retarded or otherwise severely handicapped. If unattended, they might well stray from the house or the locality and get lost, and most likely, meet with a worse fate. This sorry situation has a second feature – such a defenceless person’s family is a poor one who cannot afford to pay for their special care. The third accompanying feature, most often, is that the other members of the family have to go out of the house daily to earn a living.

The latest such report is from Jhapa where a 19-year-old has been kept chained for the age of two. The boy was born with severe mental and physical impairments and developed epileptic seizures. Unless such people get the kindness of the government and some charitable organization, there is no way their ‘imprisonment’ can be removed. Generally speaking, such people are reported, but succor hardly reaches them. There are two aspects to such cases: their medical treatment and their care at some institution run by professionals so that their life could be made less unbearable.