Nepal Rations Fuel Ahead of Diwali

Shirish B Pradhan/Kathmandu
Nepal Rations Fuel Ahead of Diwali

Ahead of Diwali, Nepal today reimposed rationing fuel to cope with a worsening shortage of petroleum products due to the blockade of a key trade point with India by Madhesis protesting over the country's new Constitution.

Three to four kilometre long queues were seen outside some four dozen petrol pumps in the capital as the government decided to distribute 5 litre of petrol to two wheelers and and 15 litre of petrol to four wheeler private vehicles on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Salt Trading Corporation, government owned entity, is also distributing half filled gas cylinders with 7 kg weight to the general public ahead of two important festivals --Diwali and Chhath -- next week.

Only few fuel tankers have entered Nepal from India through Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Biratnagar and Kakarbhitta checking points with the main trading point Raxaul-Birgnuj remaining completely shut down as the protesters have intensified their sit-ins and demonstrations.

In September too, Nepal had rationed fuel to ease the crisis.

Nepal yesterday requested China to open more border points for trade.

The southern plains of landlocked Nepal have been simmering with tension since the Constitution was formally adopted on September 20.

Madhesis, Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal's Terai region, are protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution and their agitation has closed the main trading point near Raxaul, halting supply of essential goods from India, causing an acute shortage of fuel in Nepal.

Over 40 people, including an Indian, have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed India-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India via the major border trading points has been badly affected.

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