LP gas shortage: Teku depot overrun by folk seeking refill

- Anup Ojha, Rajesh Khanal, KATHMANDU
LP gas shortage: Teku depot overrun by folk seeking refill

Jan 27, 2015-

Bishnu Kumari Sunuwar from Balaju had a frustratingly long wait on Monday on the banks of the Bishnumati river for a cylinder of cooking gas from the National Trading Limited in Teku. After six hours, she could no longer tolerate the stench from the river and fell unconscious.

With the shortage of the household fuel in regular depots, thousands of people like Sunuwar stood in queue—which stretched 2 kilometres up to Paropakar Sewa, Bhimsensthan—for an LP gas cylinder. With an aim to ease the scarcity to some extent, the government began selling LPG from Teku on Sunday.

“We have been surviving on beaten rice and noodles for a week. We would be able to eat a square meal if we got a cylinder of cooking gas,” said Sanimaya Gajurel from Balaju, Sunuwar’s neighbour, who was sprinkling water on her fainted friend.

Sunuwar and Gajurel had joined the snaking line from early morning. At 3pm, they were still waiting near the Bishnumati, braving the foul smell and human excreta all around.

There were more than 6,000 people waiting. Few were wearing masks while most of them closed their nose with their fingers.

The shortage has lasted more than two months, after the Indian Oil Corporation’s Barauni refinery cut off the gas supply citing maintenance at the facility. Lately, the sole importer Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has claimed to have increased the supply but the people in general find it hard to believe.

In the queue were schoolchildren, college students, pregnant women, housewives, government officials, elderly people and a group of nuns from a monastery in Chobhar. “There are around 200 of us in the Gumba. We have run out of firewood as well,” said Gelekwangmo, a nun. The group had five cylinders to refill.

The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies said it sold 4,000 cylinder gas on Sunday. However, many complained of not getting it even after waiting for six hours. “On Sunday I waited for more than six hours but could not get one. I was told that I would get it today which seems unlikely,” said Bhumeshwor Kumar Shah from Kirtipur. A number of customers said they had failed to get Sahara Gas, Tribeni Gas, Surya Gas and Om Gas in particular.

The NOC said it has increased daily import to 70,000 cylinders from 40,000 cylinders earlier. According to the oil monopoly, the average national demand is 56,000 cylinders daily. NOC spokesman Mukunda Ghimire suspected that there could still be massive hoarding, resulting in the dearth. A total of 23 bottlers have been distributing LPG from the Teku outlet.

Published: 27-01-2015 08:53

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