Coil heaters, briquettes seen as alternatives

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Oct 13, 2015-

Forty-six-year-old Bhuwan Singh Thapa strolled around Mahaboudha, Asan and Bhedasingh on Monday to purchase a coil heater after the cooking gas in his kitchen finished a week ago. He, however, had to return home empty handed.

A large crowd thronged major hardwares, electric shops and mud-made utensil shops that sell coil heaters but had the same fate. Those who sold it also demanded an exuberant amount. “A coil heater costs Rs 160 to Rs 200 depending upon its shape and size, but the shopkeepers were selling it for up to Rs 1,000. I still didn’t find one though,” said Thapa, who stays in Chabahil with five other family members. Thapa, a Thamel-based trekking guide said he is not allowed to use briquette by his house owner because of the smoke it emits.

Due to the unofficial trade embargo enforced by India, Kathmandu denizens have been hit hard since the past couple of weeks with the shortage of cooking gas and other petroleum products.

Ramkumar Jaiswal, 55, who runs a vegetable shop in Kalimati, also suffered a similar fate on Monday. After failing to finding a coil heater, Jaiswal bought two rolls of briquette (each roll consists of three pieces of briquette) and a chulo. “Our family has depended on chiura, chauchau and dalmot for a week after the shortage of cooking gas. We had a kerosene stove, but too doesn’t work now,” said Jaiswal, who stays in a rented room with seven family members. He rued that it is only the rich that can afford to keep stock of cooking gas and food items, and the poor are always the ones to suffer.

“My five year son doesn’t like bitten rice and demands rice, curry, and pulse to eat. But without fire how can provide him all that,” said a worried-looking Jaiswal. “That is why I bought this briquette along with a chulo,” he added.

Aware of the recent change in government, all of them requested Prime Minister KP Oli to resolve the fuel and cooking gas crisis as soon as possible. “Otherwise, we will die of hunger,” they said.

 Jaiswal’s flat mate Rajababu Chaurasia also bought the briquette stove. He paid Rs 350 for the stove and Rs 100 for a roll of briquette.

Businessmen that sell coil heater and briquette, on the other hand, said that they are not able to meet the rising demands of customers in the Valley, adding that having gone out of coil heaters, they now only have limited briquette and its chulo. “Our dealer in Sano Thimi says they are not able to supply due to present fuel shortage,” said Shiva Shrestha, owner of mud-made utensils shop in Bhedasingh. Shrestha said he has been selling over 500 briquette rolls and 500 briquette stoves every day.

The Himalayan Bio-briquettes in Gatthaghar, a manufacturer company, claimed to have been supplying over 6,000 rolls of briquette and its chulo to Kathmandu Valley in a single day. “We are not able to meet the demands of people because of the transportation problem, the demand is increasing even outside the Valley,” said Gopal Sharma, director of bio- briquette.

Published: 13-10-2015 08:49

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