Protests, blockade affect life in Tarai

- BHUSAN YADAV, BIRGUNJ
Traders say most industries in the region have been shut down due to protests, fuel crisis, load shedding and lack of raw materials

Jan 7, 2016-The ongoing protests by Madhes-based parties and India’s unofficial blockade have greatly affected daily life of people in various districts in the Tarai region.

Diabetes and high blood pressure patient Rajendra Bimal of Janakpur said he has been deprived of life saving drugs for the past five days due to the shortage of medicines in the district.

“I cannot even die nor remain alive,” he said, adding that people in the region anxiously listen to news every evening as they are hopeful that the ongoing crisis will be resolved soon.

While the poor and the ailing are hit hardest, smugglers have been earning money supplying fuel across the Nepal-India border illegally. As economic activities are affected, even traders and daily 

wage workers are compelled to take loans to maintain their livelihood.

A majority of people in the region who cannot afford to purchase cooking gas from smugglers are using the wood stored in their houses to cook food. Rakesh Singh, a youth politician, said the government has not shown any seriousness towards resolving the crisis soon. “The government is unable to understand people’s hardships,” he said.

Farmers, meanwhile, are compelled to sell rice at very low price and pay hefty sum to tractor owners to plough their farmland. Rajanikant Jha of Malangawa in Sarlahi said tractor operators used to charge Rs 1000 per hours in the past but they are charging twice the amount these due to the shortage of fuel. He said the fuel crisis has also made it almost impossible to take their sugarcane to factories.

Local traders said most industries have been shut down due to protests, fuel crisis, shortage of raw materials and increasing load shedding hours. Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry informed that around 50,000 people working in around 1,500 industries of Federal State Number 2 have lost their job due to the ongoing situation.

Indian traders, meanwhile, are swindling Nepalis in the Indian market. They have also started charging around Rs 15 more while exchanging Nepali currency with the Indian one.

Likewise, service seekers in the region have been hit hard as most government offices related to Drinking Water, Inland Revenue, Transport Management, Land Revenue, Survey and District Administration Offices have been shut down for the past several months. Most staffers working in these offices have returned home on the pretext of ongoing unrest. Locals, on the other hand, are unable to pay bills for electricity, telephone and water. 

Though schools have resumed classes, transportation services are still obstructed. Parents are compelled to take their kids to schools and home own their own every day. Bishwakaran Jain, a trader, said the unnatural price hike of daily essentials has greatly affected lives of people in Tarai districts. “The income level has decreased significantly due to the price hike of each and every commodity,” he said.

Vehicles, meanwhile, are ferrying passengers from places other than designated bus parks and the East-West Highway in the region due to obstruction from protesters in inner Tarai. 

Published: 07-01-2016 09:06

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