THT 10 YEARS AGO: Price hike fuels nationwide protests

Kathmandu, October 25, 2007

Nineteen major intersections of the valley were blocked for an hour this afternoon as the Newa Rajya Samiti affiliated to the CPN-Maoist called chakkajam to protest the hike in fuel prices.

All the sister organisations of the party, including the All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary and the All Nepal Trade Union Federation were deployed to effect the chakkajam that began at 2 pm. Addressing a brief gathering at Ratna Park, vice-president of ANNISU-R Ram Deep Acharya said today’s protest was symbolic one and the agitation would be intensified if the decision to raise the prices of petroleum products was not rolled back.

Though the organisers claimed that they did not hinder the movement of press vehicles and those on emergency duty, a THT reporter was asked to show camera to prove he was a journalist at Thapathali chowk. Maoist spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara stated that the hike was intended to hide the game of commission, corruption and pilferage of the petroleum products.

Mahara demanded that the government should have taken the decision after controlling irregularities rampant within the Nepal Oil Corporation and generating consensus among all the parties. The Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party demanded immediate withdrawal of the government’s decision. It demanded that the government seize properties amassed through illegal means by the NOC employees.

The Nepal Revolutionary Students’ Union suggested that the government should import fuel from China to provide the petroleum products at cheaper rates.

Irregular supply bothers public

Kathmandu, October 25, 2007

Price hike in petroleum products sparked protests but it seems that the public is more concerned about regular supply than the price hike.

Jiwan Silwal, a resident of Balkot, Bhaktapur, said, “I agree with the decision to hike fuel prices. But the government has to ensure regular supply of the petroleum products.” He, however, complained against the steep hike in LPG price. “If the Nepal Oil Corporation is incurring huge losses, why doesn’t it hike the prices at one go to cover the loss?” he wondered. “NOC should be made aware of the loss we incur due to irregular supply of petroleum products,” he added.

Pawan Timilsina of Jawalakhel said most of his time was wasted in queue for petrol. “Time is invaluable. Altogether I must have been spending at least 10 days a month in queue for petrol,” he said, adding, “I hope there will be enough supply of petrol now.”

He thinks that scarcity for petrol is only for the general public. “The employees of NOC can get as much petrol as they want and that too supplied to their homes,” he claimed. Urmila Rayamajhi, a resident of Purano Baneshwor, also holds similar views.