Black marketeering rife in rural areas of DotiThe District Administration Office and local governments, however, are not exercising effective mechanisms to check the malpractice, locals complain.
Black marketeering of petroleum products and foodstuff, along with the sale of adulterated goods, are going unchecked in Doti, locals say.
The only petrol pump, run by Saileshwori Group Fuel Centre, in Silgadhi in the district is creating an artificial shortage of petroleum products, alleges Ram Bahadur KC, a local of Silgadhi. “The stock of petrol and diesel (which is allocated by Dhangadhi-based Nepal Oil Corporation for the district) is being diverted to other parts including Achham, Bajura illegally,” he said.
Prem Bhandari, the operator of Saileshwori Group Fuel Centre, however, denies the allegation saying that he sells petrol as per the market price.
“I sell to customers who buy petroleum products from me for personal use and to sell them to third parties. I don’t have a say in the price at which people who buy from me sell the products to their customers,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of the local administration and local units to take action against the guilty,” said Bhandari.
This has created a shortage of petroleum products, leading to a hike in the price of these products, said KC. “We have been compelled to pay Rs150 for a litre of petrol instead of Rs108 a litre as per the recent adjustment of the Nepal Oil Corporation,” he said.
Even though black marketeering has become rampant in the rural parts of Doti district, locals said that the District Administration Office and local governments are not exercising effective mechanisms to control the practice.
Ram Bahadur Air, chief at the District Coordination Committee, said there’s an artificial shortage of fuel, foodstuff, and liquor among other daily essentials in Silgadhi and other parts of the district. “The locals are currently facing a shortage of daily essentials but the concerned authorities are not taking it seriously,” said Air.
The local governments have the authority to introduce measures to control illegal activities such as black marketeering under the Consumers Protection Act 2018, Local Government Operation Act 2017 and Market Monitoring Directives 2017.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, a market monitoring committee can slap fines ranging between Rs5,000 and Rs300,000 on those involved in black marketeering.
Tek Narayan Paudel, chief district officer, said that the local administration has the right to inspect the markets, but does not have the authority to take action against the guilty.
“Some businessmen are found to have been involved in black marketeering and food adulteration. But only the local government has the authority to take action against them,” said Paudel.
Locals units have the right to form the market monitoring committees and monitoring teams to control black marketeering. But none of the local units in the district has formed such a team. As a result, there is rampant black marketeering compelling the locals to purchase daily essentials at exorbitant prices.
Narendra Bahadur Khadka, former chairman of Doti Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the local units were not paying attention even though the businessmen were surcharging customers. “People’s representatives are not showing interest in monitoring the market,” said Khadka.
Manju Malasi, mayor of Dipayal Silgadhi Municipality, said consumers have to support the local governments to control black marketeering and food adulteration. “We have already warned some businessmen involved in black marketeering, and those involved in food adulteration,” said Malasi, assuring that the local unit would initiate action against the guilty.
In a programme organised at Silgadhi on Sunday, Man Singh Saud, branch manager of the Commerce Division in the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, said consumers should be aware of black marketeering and raise their voices against the unlawful activities. “The local units and provincial government should collaborate to end such practices,” said Saud.