Black marketing of petroleum products unchecked in Nepal

Kathmandu, Dec 4 (IANS) Nepal Police have arrested the proprietor of a gas station and three others accused of black marketing diesel near this Nepalese capital, an outcome of the blockade at the India-Nepal border.

Trishuli Oil Stores was caught selling diesel at double the given rate of NRs.160 (about $1.4) per litre.

On Friday, vegetable vendor Bikas Gupta, hailing from India’s Mothihari region, was arrested for selling a LPG cylinder for NRs.9,000. Police also seized 19 LPG cylinders from his rented room.

Due to the blockade at major entry points along the India-Nepal border since September due to the protesting Madhesi community, consumers are being forced to pay NRs.300-400 for a litre of petrol and NRs.6,000-10,000 for an LPG cylinder.

Most of the petrol, diesel and LPG cylinders being sold in the country is being smuggled into the country from nearby Indian cities. Fuel and LPG cylinders are comparatively cheaper in cities near the Indian border and their price skyrockets once they are brought into Nepal.

Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said the country is receiving around 30 percent of its requirementss from India since the embargo started. The rest of the requirement is being fulfilled by black marketeers.

The fuel that NOC receives is being used by the security agencies, top government officials, hospitals and the diplomatic community.

Nepal government officials told IANS that thousands of Nepali and Indian citizens are involved in black marketing in bordering areas and it is also emerging as an alternative business for many.

They use illegal routes to transport fuel and gasoline through motorcycles, tractors, scooters, cars, cycles and other forms of transportation.

Security personnel deployed at the border areas are being bribed, the officials said.

“I am buying fuel in black market near Pashupati Nath temple area where dozens of buses bring petrol from Tarai and sell them,” Hari Tamang, a taxi driver told IANS. He has been buying a litre of petrol for NRs.350 for the last three months.

He is charging commuters three times the actual fare.

Almost all small towns on the Nepal-India border have turned into fuel bazaars since many people on both sides have opted the fuel business leaving their previous professions. Due to the embargo and the standoff on the border, many people have lost their stable jobs and have begun to smuggle fuel from India.

After the media started writing about the flourishing black marketing in fuel, Nepal’s Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had warned the monitoring authorities to be vigilant or face action.

The ministry of commerce and supplies has set up a hotline for registering complaints against black marketing. The government has alo urged the public to report such activities.

But the situation has not changed so far.

Even some NOC officials were found involved in black marketing.

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