350 trucks of drugs still stuckWith hospitals across the country reeling under an acute shortage of drugs and medical equipment as a result of India’s embargo, Nepal Chemists and Druggists Association has said about 350 trucks laden with medicines are still stuck at border points.
With hospitals across the country reeling under an acute shortage of drugs and medical equipment as a result of India’s embargo, Nepal Chemists and Druggists Association has said about 350 trucks laden with medicines are still stuck at border points.
The grouping of pharmaceutical traders said of around 500 trucks stuck on the Indian side of the Birgunj-Raxaul border point, only a few were rerouted to the Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha crossing.
“Many medical devices and syringes used for surgery and medicines for chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension and orthopaedic problems are in short supply,” Paras Baral, past president of the association, said at an “Interaction Programme on Economic Relations between India and Nepal” here on Friday. “Even saline, which is imported in bulk cargo, has become scarce lately.”
Drugs imported from India hold around 60 percent share in Nepal’s Rs20-billion medicine market.
Organised jointly by the Indian Embassy and Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), India’s Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae also attended the event.
Participants of the programme accused India of creating a humanitarian and economic crisis.
Anjana Tamrakar, vice-president of the Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries, said households were having a hard time managing fuel for cooking, blaming India for the situation. “The blockade has created a humanitarian crisis,” she said.
Not only medicines, all kinds of Nepal-bound goods have been stuck either at border points or the Kolkata port. As a result, importers have been forced to pay huge demurrage and detention charges.
Niraj Rai, an importer, said they were compelled to pay demurrage charges of $80-120 per container per day. “It has created an extra burden and is likely to increase the cost of doing business,” said Rai, adding rampant black-marketeering of daily essentials posed risk to the entire economy.
Economist Bishwombhar Pyakuryal said the prolonged Tarai unrest and Indian trade embargo has resulted in massive losses. “In the last eight months, Nepal has lost an estimated two-third of its GDP size worth around Rs2,100 billion due to the April earthquake, Tarai unrest and India’s unofficial trade embargo,” he said. “Good days have for black-marketeers, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, while general consumers have been suffering.”
Former Finance Secretary Rameshore Khanal said the current impasse would adversely affect the bilateral trade relation and cultural harmony between two countries.
Nepal is heavily dependent on India in trade, with the country’s two-third trade takes place with the southern neighbour.