The Indian government has directed the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to increase the supply of liquefied petroleum gas to Nepal without any delay.
Indian Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas directed the IOC to supply cooking gas as per Nepal’s demand as it has been reeling under a gas shortage.
Minister Dharmendra Pradhan informed Acting Nepali Ambassador to India Krishna Prasad Dhakal on Tuesday that he had directed the authorities to instantly increase LPG shipments. “Preparations are being made to supply 30,000 tonnes of LPG from February,” said Pradhan.
Nepal has been facing a severe shortage of the essential fuel for the last two months. IOC had cut LPG shipments due to maintenance work at its depot in Barauni two months ago. Pradhan said the obstacle had been removed and that the refinery had started maintaining adequate LPG stocks as per Nepal’s demand.
Despite the resumption of normal services from the depot, the Nepali market has been suffering from an LPG shortage which has been blamed on black marketing and hoarding.
The state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said shortages had persisted even though it had issued LPG in quantities higher than the normal market demand.
During the meeting, IOC chief B Ashok and high-ranking Indian government officials were also present.
Earlier, Commerce Minister Sunil Bahadur Thapa had informed the Indian authorities about the crisis in Nepal. He had urged them to increase the supply up to 29,000 tonnes as per the demand.
More than 70 percent of Nepal’s LPG imports come from Barauni while IOC depots in Haldiya (West Bengal), Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) and Karnal (Hariyana) provide the rest.
Concerned by the problems seen in the distribution of LPG from National Trading Limited which was mobbed by customers, Minister Thapa had directed the Nepal Embassy in India to talk to the concerned Indian authorities to address the problem.
The severity of the fuel shortage was all apparent in National Trading’s being sold out of LPG on Sunday and Monday. The government halted sales from National Trading from Tuesday.
“Around 15,000 tonnes of gas should have entered Nepal from Barauni every month, but only 8,000 tonnes have been shipped presently,” said a source at the Petroleum Ministry in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, officials of NOC and IOC are organising a meeting in New Delhi this week in a bid to address the LPG scarcity.