THT 10 YEARS AGO: Govt rolls back petro price hike

Kathmandu, January 23, 2008

The government today rolled back the petroleum products’ price hike in the face of nationwide protests.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala intervened in the matter at an emergency meeting of senior ministers held at his official residence at Baluwatar this afternoon. He asked the line ministries to review the decision to hike prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. After the meeting, Shyam Sundar Gupta, minister for industry, commerce and supplies, directed the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to reverse its decision on price hike.

Senior ministers, including Gupta, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, were present in the meeting.

On Monday evening, the NOC had raised the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. The corporation had said it was done to bail out NOC from heavy losses incurred due to a huge price disparity.

During the meeting, finance minister Dr Mahat insisted that the price hike decision should not be reversed, considering the staggering losses incurred by NOC and the eventual fuel shortage faced by the country. But the other ministers argued for a rollback as the nationwide protests against the hike could even affect the CA polls.

Issuing a press statement this evening, NOC confirmed the price hike withdrawal. Now on, kerosene will cost Rs 51 a litre, diesel Rs 56.25 per litre and cooking gas will cost Rs 1,100 per cylinder.

Asteroid to zoom past Earth next week 


Paris, January 23, 2008 

A huge asteroid will zoom past Earth next week at such a close distance that amateur astronomers should be able to spot it, specialists said today.

Measuring between 150 and 600 metres across, asteroid 2007 TU24 would inflict devastating regional damage were it to hit Earth, but there is no risk of any collision, they said.

It will fly by on Tuesday, being around 534,000 kilometres (334,000 miles) from the Earth at its closest point at 0834 GMT, according to a Near Earth Object (NEO) database compiled by the University of Pisa in Italy. “For a brief time the asteroid will be observable in dark and clear skies with amateur telescopes of three inches (7.5 centimetres) or larger,” NASA said on its NEO site ( s/news157.html). 2007 TU24 will make the closest approach of any known potentially hazardous asteroid of this size or larger until 2027, NASA said, adding that objects of this size come close to Earth about every five years or so on average. The rock was discovered only last October under a surveillance programme run by the University of Arizona.

According to the Minor Planet Center of the Parisbased International Astronomical Union (IAU), the closest detected approach by an asteroid was on March 31, 2004 by 2004 FU162, which came within 6,500 kms of Earth.