Govt sells firewoodIn a sight reminiscent of the olden days, scores of people in the Capital, including women and the elderly, carried home logs that the government sold on Sunday as an alternative to cooking gas.
In a sight reminiscent of the olden days, scores of people in the Capital, including women and the elderly, carried home logs that the government sold on Sunday as an alternative to cooking gas.
Only a few hundred people, though, were able to buy firewood from the state-owned Timber Corporation Nepal which brought truckloads from the Tarai as a way to tide over the cooking fuel crisis.
According to the TCN, it sold fuel wood to 150 people from its depot in Gaushala and to a further 403 people from Balkumari. Hundreds of others who were in queue since early morning returned empty-handed after the stock sold out.
The government had decided to sell firewood in Kathmandu for Rs15 per kg from 8am on Sunday. Each family could buy up to 100kg wood by showing the citizenship certificate. Hotels and organisations got a maximum of 500kg wood at the rate of Rs17 per kg.
TCN depots ran out of stock by 11am on Sunday, forcing desperate people, including 350 who had already received coupons, to return empty-handed. Even those who got fuel wood complained that it was large logs, instead of smaller pieces which are convenient for carrying and use. Nevertheless, there were woodchoppers outside the depots who charged people Rs3 per kg for splitting the logs into pieces.
The entire country, especially Kathmandu Valley, is reeling under a severe scarcity of cooking gas, petrol, diesel and kerosene after India restricted the movement of cargoes into Nepal. Many households have already taken to firewood.
The Forest Ministry has ordered 110 tonnes of firewood to be brought into the Capital from Bara in the first phase. According to TCN General Manager Birendra Yadav, about 200 trucks are yet to arrive from the central Tarai district. He said more would be hauled from Nawalparasi next.
The government had made preparations to sell firewood to the Valley residents from Friday but it postponed the plan due to Tihar holidays.
Ecologist Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha said the decision to distribute wood instead of gas for cooking is not sustainable. “At a time when we are trying to reduce our dependency on firewood in rural areas and encouraging alternative energy sources, the decision is likely to fuel deforestation and illegal logging if not monitored effectively,” he said.
More than 22 percent households in the country use liquefied petroleum gas as the primary cooking fuel. According to official data, the percentage is close to 90 for Kathmandu. The supply of bottled LPG has been halted for several weeks now. Nationwide, about 70 percent households use firewood to cook food.