House panel tells govt to resolve oil shortageThe parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Protection Committee on Wednesday directed the Supplies Ministry to resolve the fuel shortage in the Kathmandu Valley without delay.
The parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Protection Committee on Wednesday directed the Supplies Ministry to resolve the fuel shortage in the Kathmandu Valley without delay.
The House panel asked the government to deal with the problems being faced by oil transporters and entrepreneurs after long lines began appearing at gasoline stations in the Valley due to a shortage triggered by a strike by oil tanker operators.
Tanker operators launched the protest to emphasize their disagreement over a number of provisions in the recently amended Petroleum Products Transportation Bylaw.
They have opposed most strongly the provision requiring them to have a minimum fleet size of five tanker trucks.
They have submitted a 15-point demand to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and threatened to halt all oil shipments if their grievances were not addressed by February 27.
Speaking at the House committee meeting, NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka claimed that there was no fuel shortage currently. “However, there could be shortages if shipments are disrupted by the agitation announced by Madhes-based parties as we lack storage facilities to maintain adequate reserve stocks,” Khadka said.
The state-owned oil monopoly has a combined capacity to stock 72,000 kilolitres of fuel across the country. NOC’s depot at Thankot has a capacity to store 1,870 kilolitres of petrol, but one of its storage tanks is currently being repaired.
Khadka said the country’s daily gasoline requirement had surged to 4,000 kilolitres from 2,500 kilolitres. “However, we lack infrastructure to stock larger amounts of fuel.”
Meanwhile, cooking gas bottlers have also given a seven-day ultimatum along with a 17-point memorandum to the Supplies Ministry and NOC.
Among their demands are increasing the commission to gas bottlers, revising the recently amended LP Gas Transport Bylaw and scrapping the licences issued to new gas companies. They have also asked the government to acquire an explosive licence from the Indian government.
Supplies Secretary Prem Kumar Rai said the government was unable to hike the
commission being paid to the bottlers. “An increase in the commission rate will translate into a rise in market prices which will hit the general public,” Rai said.
He added that the Supplies Ministry had sent a request through the Foreign Ministry to Indian authorities to issue an explosive licence to Nepali gas bullets. The permit is required for the transportation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Shiva Ghimire, president of the Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, accused the government of showing no interest in resolving the problems that have emerged in fuel supplies.
“If the government wants to ensure smooth supplies of essentials, it should implement appropriate policies to address the problems of fuel suppliers,” Ghimire said.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have asked the government to act to prevent recurrent shortages by building storage plants, starting talks with fuel transporters and ending their syndicate.
Oil shipments on the way despite unrest
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said Wednesday that it had been importing adequate quantities of oil even though an agitation had begun in the Tarai. Madhes-based political parties launched a protest along the Nepal-India border on Wednesday. “We sent a large number of tanker trucks to India on Tuesday evening, and they have been loaded with fuel,” said NOC spokesperson Bhanubhakta Khanal. According to him, the tankers will be departing for Nepal in the late evening on Wednesday. “If necessary, we will ask for help from the security forces to ensure that the trucks are not obstructed on the way,” Khanal said.