THT 10 YEARS AGO: Severe fuel crisis looms large

Kathmandu, May 6, 2008

The country is likely to witness a severe crisis of petroleum products again after the cash-strapped Nepal Oil Corporation slashed distribution of petroleum products by nearly 50 per cent in the capital.

NOC supplies manager Mukunda Dhungel said the Corporation headquarters had directed its Thankot depot to distribute only 410 kl of petroleum products a day to the dealers from Sunday, while the demand stands at around 800 kl. “We had to take the harsh decision as we don’t have the money to finance regular import with the price of fuel surging in the international market,” Dhungel said.

Shortly after the CA polls on April 10, the state-run oil monopoly had slashed the supply of diesel and kerosene to dealers by nearly 25 per cent. “Supply would go down further in the days to come if no immediate intervention is made to regularise the import,” Dhungel said.

An NOC source said the Corporation plans to import only 75,000 kl of oil this month as compared to 83,000 kl it imported last month.

The supply will keep on decreasing unless the government immediately came to its rescue — inject more money to cover for the ever growing losses due to subsidies or hike in international prices, the source said. “Nepali consumers would face unprecedented crisis, something beyond their imagination, within the next few days if the government did not take a bold decision immediately,” cautioned Shiva Prasad Ghimire, chairman of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association.

Dealers added that black marketeers and customers had been hoarding fuel for the past few months.

UNMIN’s job over, says Dev Gurung

Kathmandu, May 6, 2008

Senior Maoist leader Dev Gurung, who is also the Minister for Local Development, today said integration of the Nepal Army and the Maoist combatants could be carried out without the United Nations Mission in Nepal.

“It is up to the government to decide whether UNMIN would be involved in the integration process or not,” Gurung said at an interaction in Kathmandu today.

But he was quick to add that as the army integration was a national agenda, as part of the comprehensive peace agreement, it would be carried out after consulting the stakeholders concerned. Asked to suggest a tentative timeframe for the army integration, he said, “I think it would not take even two months.” Stating that UNMIN’s main responsibility to monitor the constituent assembly election was over, he hinted that his party was not in favour of extending the term of the UN body, which expires on July 22.

Referring to the argument that Maoist chairman Prachanda has to step down as the chief of the People’s Liberation Army if he is to become the next head of the government or state, Gurung said Prachanda could retain both the posts as the interim constitution allowed that.