Birat Petroleum tanker seizedPolice on Tuesday evening seized a fuel tanker belonging to Birat Petroleum from Dillibazaar, Kathmandu, after it was found distributing fuel to locals directly from the vehicle.
Police on Tuesday evening seized a fuel tanker belonging to Birat Petroleum from Dillibazaar, Kathmandu, after it was found distributing fuel to locals directly from the vehicle.
Law enforcement officials from the Metropolitan Police Circle, Singha Durbar, took the vehicle under control and arrested some of its staffers who were involved in selling fuel.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Prajit KC said the company was selling petrol for Rs 250 per litre, more than double of the normal price. Current price of petrol maintained by the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) is Rs104 per litre. Besides, selling such inflammable product directly from the tanker poses risk to public life, he said.
“We were really concerned about the way the fuel was being distributed,” said DSP KC. DSP KC said the company later furnished a government permission letter for selling petrol “during crisis”.
After confiscating the tanker, police handed over the tanker to Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology (NBSM) for quality test.
Birat Petroleum a few weeks ago had obtained licence from the Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCSM) to import fuel. A total of 20 private companies, including Birat Petroleum, have got licence for supplying petroleum products temporarily.
Birat Petroleum earlier had “cancelled” its contract with the NOC following controversies surrounding its past.
It was one of the companies to apply for import licence to supply fuel in the wake of shortage of fuel in the country following an unofficial blockade by India.
In its contract with the NOC, Birat Petroleum had agreed to supply petrol and diesel. Birat Petroleum, owned by Arjun Chhetri—a Sikkim based supplier—was supposed to import petroleum products from Bharat Petroleum depots in Assam, Guwahati.
NOC officials, however, said that they were not the authority to regulate the private importers after the government allowed the private sector to import petroleum products. Citing deepening fuel crisis, the government through the Nepal Gazette on October 19 had allowed private companies to import fuel.
As per the provision, private companies can sell the imported products in coordination with the DoCSM.
According to a source at the NOC, Birat Petroleum has not taken permission to distribute fuel through any of the petroleum depots to which it has provided operating licence. Birat Petroleum had a few days ago imported 97,000 liters of petroleum products from India. The company in its business plan submitted to the DoCSM has stated that it will import fuel from Haldiya of Kolkata, India.
DoCSM officials, however, said that there was lack of clarity in the law whether the private companies can distribute petroleum products on their own. “The department is authorised to look into price and the NBSM is supposed to monitor the quality of petroleum products imported by the private companies, but there is no clear provision on how the imported fuel should be distributed,” said a DoCSM source.
Another official at the department said that the bylaw related with petroleum transactions has made a provision that the petroleum products should be sold only through authorised petrol pumps. According to the NOC, there are around 1,400 petrol pumps operating across the country.