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IOC refuses to provide fuel despite assurances

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Oct 5, 2015-

Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Sunday India continued to impose strict restriction on oil supply despite assurances on Saturday that it would provide required quantity of petroleum products.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) had reached out to the NOC after reports emerged that New Delhi had instructed its agencies on the ground to lift restrictions on essential supplies to Nepal

Following assurances from the IOC, the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal, the NOC had sent 103 oil tankers to IOC depots in Siliguri and Raxaul.

When the tankers reached the IOC depots, the Indian supplier only agreed to give a few tankers of oil citing non-authorisation from the higher authorities.

 “We refused to refill the tankers after the IOC told us that it would only refill oil in 10 percent of tankers that reached the depots,” said Mukunda Ghimire, director at the NOC. “The IOC on Sunday said they were unable to provide fuel as they are yet to receive the instruction from the higher authority.”

According to the NOC, it had sent 40 tankers to IOC depots in Siliguri to collect petroleum products. Similarly, 63 tankers, which had been held up for the last two weeks, also reached the IOC depot in Raxaul for refilling. However, the IOC provided the products only to a few of them. Only two gas bullets and three oil tankers entered Nepal through Sunauli border until Sunday evening.

Likewise, IOC depots situated in various bordering Indian towns also denied refilling the petroleum products as sought by Nepal, the NOC officials said.

According to Biratnagar Customs Office, a number of trucks loaded with daily essentials, agricultural products and industrial raw materials entered Nepal through Biratnagar border. “However, none of them were the petroleum and cooking gas,” it said. Customs chief Krishna Bahadur Basnet said on Sunday that the Indian customs authority had initially agreed to escort the containers to the Nepal-India border.

Since India imposed restriction on oil supply, a total of 106 consignment including petroleum tankers and bullets of cooking gas have been stuck in the bordering areas of Jogbani. Likewise, the customs office in Banke said none of the loaded trucks entered Nepal through Rupaidiha customs point. The Seema Suraksha Bal of India is reported to have restricted the containers on the pretext of “not receiving the official letter from high authority”.

With Nepal’s recent move to amend the constitution, the Indian side on Saturday hinted at removing the ongoing obstacles at the border crossings. Subsequently, the IOC had showed its commitment to refill all the petroleum tankers that the NOC would send on the day. In a reply to NOC letter sent on Thursday, the IOC said that it would provide sufficient petroleum products to Nepal once the issue was resolved through political dialogue.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Supply, the Indian side has agreed to remove the obstacles at the bordering points during the bilateral talks on Saturday and Sunday.

 An official at the ministry said the Indian side in Jogbani had been insisting on clearing the vehicles orderly which would leave oil tankers and gas bullets behind. “They turned down our request to clear the oil tankers and gas bullets first,” said the ministry official on condition of anonymity.

 More than 300 petroleum tankers used to enter Nepal daily during normal times, but the number has dwindled down to a handful of tankers since India imposed the unofficial blockade two weeks ago, the NOC said.

(With inputs from our local correspondents)

Nepal might approach other countries: Envoy

Nepali Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay has told India that Nepal would approach other countries, including China, if the southern neighbour continues to restrict oil supply to Nepal, Press Trust of India has reported.

“They [India] should give a time frame. Does it mean hours, weeks or months?” Upadhyay told the PTI in an interview on Sunday.

“Because, if pushed to the wall or as you say ‘marta kya naa karta’ [if you are desperate what won’t you do], we will be forced to approach other countries,” he said, adding “though it would be logistically very difficult but if left with no option Nepal would approach other countries including China.”

Published: 05-10-2015 08:40

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