The NOC must launch effective market monitoring and take legal action against the black marketeers who are taking advantage of the short-supply of petroleum products
It has been one-and-a-half month since the agitating Madhesi parties officially lifted the five months long blockade on February 8. But the supply of cooking gas has not returned to normal due to its short-supply from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the sole supplier of the petroleum products to Nepal, as per an agreement reached 40 years ago. The gas bottlers have said that they cannot meet the local demands unless the IOC increases its supplies to Nepal. The IOC had promised to increase the supply of petroleum products, including the LPG, during Prime Minister KP Oli’s six-day official visit to India beginning February 19. Even Deep Kumar Upadhyaya, Nepal’s Ambassador to India, had also said that the IOC was ready to increase the supply of LPG as per the demand and added that he would do the needful to ensure the same. Gas bottlers have said it would take at least two more months to bring the situation to normal. Total monthly demand hovers at around 30,000 tonnes during normal time, but the country received only 36,500 tonnes of LPG between October and February due to the blockade. This is the main reason behind the acute shortage of cooking gas.
As per the figure provided by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) the IOC has supplied only 45 bullets on a daily basis, whereas it should have been around 60 bullets per day on normal time. At present Nepal needs around 40,000 tonnes of LPG to normalize the supply situation. Another reason behind the short-supply of the cooking gas in the market is attributed to the half-filled cylinders for more than five months as per the government decision. This had led to almost half of the 6.5 million cylinders not reaching the market and remaining unused at home. It will take another two months for all the empty and unused cylinders to reach the refilling stations. NOC officials have also admitted that the situation will not improve for the better unless supply is increased from India and the empty cylinders reach the refilling centres.
NOC spokesperson Mukunda Prasad Ghimire also admitted that the supply of cooking gas will not improve unless the IOC agrees to increase the volume of LPG it supplies. There is no alternative to cooking gas. So, the government must use its diplomatic channel asking the Indian government to increase its supply as per the demand. On the other hand, the government should also encourage consumers to use electricity for cooking purpose. With the onset of summer the existing hydropower plants will start generating electricity in full capacity as the volume of water in the rivers will increase. People should also be encouraged to use energy efficient devices such as induction cookers so that they no longer need to depend on cooking gas. For this, the government needs to reduce the electricity tariff for some time to come, at least during the summer season, or until the supply situation becomes normal. Apart from this, the NOC must launch effective market monitoring and take legal action against the black marketeers who are exploiting the consumers taking advantage of the short-supply of the essential commodity.
Commitment for the rehabilitation of the differently-abled have been expressed but those afflicted by all types of disabilities are for the most part compelled to fend for themselves. As we observed the Down Syndrome Day Monday attempts were made to raise awareness about this disease that afflicts one baby born in a thousand. This is a kind of intellectual disability caused by an extra 21st chromosome. The tragedy is that there is no cure for the disease. Prenatal testing can help detect the disease in the fetus, and if desired it can be aborted.
As such experts advise that all expecting mothers have the necessary blood tests for the disease. At present there are no such facilities to conduct them in the country. The blood samples are tested in laboratories in India. It is therefore high time that such tests could be carried out within Nepal. Normal humans have 46 chromosomes but those with Down Syndrome have 47. The cognitive ability and physical growth of those with this syndrome are impaired. This disability could be mild to moderate. The life expectancy of those with Down Syndrome is also less and many with this disease need special attention and care.
A version of this article appears in print on March 23, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.