Nepal | July 08, 2020

EDITORIAL: Step on the gas

The Himalayan Times
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NOC must ensure that those who have obtained permits to set up high-tech fuel stations complete construction on time

Though the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) started issuing licences for constructing “model petrol pumps” in April last year, there has been no progress as of now. The move to construct “model petrol pumps” – also dubbed hi-tech fuel stations – was aimed at standardising domestic fuel industry and facilitating customers with intensive facilities. Unlike the traditional petrol pumps, such high-tech fuel stations should follow various parameters. Among others, they should be built on 13 ropanis of land (in Tarai) and on five ropanis of land (in Hilly and Himalayan regions). These fuel stations should ensure regular water and power supply and should have at least two toilets for men, four toilets for women and one for people with disabilities. Such stations should also have ample parking space, well-managed drainage and separate sales counters for petrol and diesel, along with a high capacity petroleum storage facility.

According to NOC officials, around 30 individuals and private firms have taken licences from the NOC to construct such high-tech fuel stations. The estimated cost of each such petrol station is Rs 10 million. The NOC Fuel Distribution By-law says those who acquire licences to set up “model petrol pumps” must complete the construction within two years of acquiring the permit. But even after almost a year, none of the licence acquirers has started construction, raising fears that the plan of standardising fuel distribution system could come a cropper. There are around 1,500 petrol pumps across the country and around 150 of them are in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Most of these traditional fuel stations, however, lack basic facilities like toilets and regular water supply. Many are not even equipped with proper fire-fighting systems.

It, however, is not clear why there has been the delay in construction of hi-tech fuel stations on the part of those who have already acquired licences for the same. A petroleum dealer, who did not want to be named, had told this daily that most of those with licences for setting up high-tech fuel stations “are lobbying with the government to allow them to operate traditional petrol pumps.” If this is the case, this must be discouraged. The authorities concerned must press them to construct fuel stations according to the guidelines set out by the NOC. The state-owned oil monopoly is not issuing new fuel dealership at present and those who have already acquired licences for high-tech fuel stations seem to be trying to take advantage of this fact. There have also been calls from petroleum dealers that the NOC should ensure that the plan to set-up high-tech fuel stations should not hamper the businesses of those who are operating traditional petrol pumps. The authorities should look into this as well. According to NOC Spokesperson Birendra Goit, the NOC will take necessary action against those licence holders who fail to set up fuel stations within the given deadline. The NOC must walk the talk. It is high time fuel distribution system is systematised in the country. Since the NOC has already made a move to this effect, it should press the licence holders to complete the construction within the deadline. Both the NOC and licence holders need to step on the gas.


Give first priority

Locals of the two rural municipalities – Bigu and Gaurishankar – in Dolakha have announced protest programmes over the modality of share allocation of the 456-MW Upper Tamakoshi hydel project. The locals have said their proposal was ignored by the then District Development Committee (DDC), which endorsed the old modality of
allocating shares to the locals, who are entitled to 10 per cent of the project’s share. Bigu and Gaurishankar are the highly project-affected rural municipalities from where transmission lines and an access road pass through.

The locals have demanded that the old modality, which the then DDC endorsed in August last year, should be revised. The affected people have demanded that they be given first priority and the project’s share should be distributed equally in all wards. This is a serious issue that needs to be resolved quickly. The local level elected officials must hold talks with the agitating locals to address their grievances. The concerned also should keep in mind that the project is being completed on time because of the locals’ cooperation. Project officials must give the first priority to the most-affected areas while allocating the project’s shares.

 


A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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