Nepal rations fuel as India blocks supplies
Nepal’s industry minister says its an economic blockade of Nepal
KATHMANDU – Nepal began rationing fuel to cope with a worsening shortage brought on by continuing unrest over the country’s new constitution and a dispute with neighboring India.
Nepal imports all of its fuel from India, but tanker trucks carrying fresh supplies have been blocked from crossing the border since late last week. “Things are completely out of order,” said Deepak Baral, a spokesman for the state-run Nepal Oil Corporation. “What we are doing now is just to continue emergency-only services.”
Baral said strict limits would be imposed on the sale of fuel to taxis, school buses, private cars, motorcycles and scooters. “Despite all these austerity measures, we will run out of fuel within the next 10 days,” he said. Nepali officials blamed India for the shortage, saying it had ordered its border officials not to let the fuel trucks cross. But Indian officials said the disruption had been caused by mass protests in Nepal against the constitution.
Analysts in Kathmandu said it is a routine matter for India to pressurise small neighbours through different means forcing them to follow its dictates. “It is an economic blockade of Nepal,” said Mahesh Basnet, Nepal’s industry minister. “India imposed it after some of its suggestions raised internally regarding the new constitution were not addressed.” He added that the move was igniting “anti-India sentiment” in the country. Demonstrators in Kathmandu shouted anti-India slogans on Monday to protest the fuel shortage.