The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) on Friday refused to dispatch petroleum products from its depots to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC). Citing public holiday for Bakr Eid, the IOC–the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal–did not allow Nepali tankers to refill fuel products. None of the IOC’s depots in India from where the NOC imports petroleum products allowed tankers to load fuel.
According to NOC officials, the IOC used to supply fuel even on public holidays on NOC request. “However, they did not cooperate with our plea this time,” a source said. NOC officials said the IOC depots have got clear instruction from their headquarters to restrict petroleum supply to Nepal. “The IOC is reported to have instructed its depots either not to provide fuel at all or to dispatch only limited quantities if compelled,” said the source at the NOC.
The IOC depots have been restricting supplies to Nepal since Tuesday citing various reasons, including mechanical failure or traffic congestion due to the ongoing strikes in Tarai. According to the NOC, only 28 tankers loaded with petrol and diesel entered the country on Friday. These included 22 tankers from Dhangadhi and six from Nepalgunj. These tankers are said to have reached IOC depots three days ago. Of the 18 tankers that reached Siliguri, West Bengal, only 10 returned to Nepal through Kakadvitta in the past three days. The NOC said around 100 tankers have been stuck at IOC depots in Baitalpur, Gonda and Raxaul.
In Raxaul, 56 tankers were denied fuel. In the last three days, only eight tankers have entered Nepal via Birgunj. On normal days, around 130 tankers enter the country from Raxaul with fuel products.
Transporters have complained that Indian security personnel have started attacking tanker drivers physically. After the Indian security force thrashed the driver of a tanker with registration number Na 5 Kha 3411, transporters are reportedly hesitating to visit IOC depot for refilling.
In addition to IOC restriction, Indian customs officials have also been delaying shipments. “They take almost an hour to clear one tanker while making others wait long,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the Jamunaha Police Office said the Indian customs at Rupaidiha barred 17 cooking gas bullets and 36 tankers from entering Nepal. Some 100 trucks loaded with daily essentials and industrial raw materials have also been stuck there. The Indian side allowed only 25 trucks carrying perishable goods to enter Nepal from the point.
Banke CDO Bed Prakash Lekhak said Indian authorities restricted shipments citing security checks. Hundreds of containers have also been stuck in Panitanki, West Bengal. Mechi Customs chief Bhim Bahadur Adhikari said only six fuel tankers and five trucks loaded with fruits entered the country on Friday.
Source: The Kathmandu Post