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Nepal Imposes Vehicle Curbs Amid Fuel Shortage Due To Blockade

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| September 27 , 2015 , 18:10 IST
Nepal on Sunday enforced an odd-even licence plate system for plying of vehicles on alternate days and asked international airlines to refuel planes abroad amid a fuel crisis due to the blockade of a key trade checkpoint with India by protesters opposing Nepal's new Constitution. Nepal government enforced the odd-even system for all kinds of vehicles plying in major cities from today in a bid to reduce the impact of the fuel crisis following unrest in Nepal's Terai plains that has led to the blockade of Birgunj trade checkpoint with India, cutting off vital supplies, including petroleum products. Nepalese officials have alleged that the fuel crisis has further worsened in the country as Indian customs and security officials are stalling cargo movement to Nepal and there has been a stoppage of petroleum supply to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) by the Indian Oil Corporation. ALSO READ: Nepal Withdraws Army From Terai, To Hold Talks With Protesters International airlines have also been asked to refuel their planes at airports abroad citing insufficient stocks at the NOC's Tribhuvan International Airport depot here, officials said. "Continued obstruction at border customs points and the IOC halting supply of petroleum products have created an abnormal situation in fuel supply," a statement issued by Nepal's Home Ministry said. Enforcing vehicle curbs, the ministry has asked the general public to ply vehicles with odd number on odd date and with even number on even days as per the Nepalese national calendar. Indian envoy Ranjit Rae was called in by the Acting Nepalese Foreign Minister Khaga Raj last week and the issue of "obstruction" in the supply of essential goods coming in from the Indian side was raised with him. ALSO READ: India Denies Reports Of Handing Amendments To Nepal Constitution Rae had clarified that there was no obstruction from the Indian side on the movement of goods and the problem was due to unrest, protests and demonstrations on the Nepalese side. Indian freight forwarders and transporters have earlier voiced complaints about the difficulties they are facing in movement within Nepal and their security fears due to the prevailing unrest. The agitating Madhesi Front claims that the Constitution does not guarantee enough rights and representation to the Madhesi and Tharu communities residing in southern Nepal. Madhesis are Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai plains bordering India. ALSO READ: Nepal Adopts New Secular Constitution, India Concerned Over Border Unrest At least 40 people have died in over a month of clashes between police and protesters from the Madhesi and Tharu communities and ethnic minorities who say the new internal borders leave them under-represented in the country's Parliament. Meanwhile, major Nepalese dailies have been critical of India and alleged that Indian customs officials have stalled supply of essential goods to Nepal over protests by Madhesi groups against the new Constitution in Nepal. "Isn't this an interference against the Nepalese people's sovereign rights to make their own constitution?" the Nagarik national daily said in its editorial on Sunday. "If that is true, Nepalese people are ready to face the consequences of the blockade imposed on them for protecting their national pride," it said. ALSO READ: Nepal’s Assembly Votes ‘Overwhelmingly’ In Favour Of New Constitution "Now there is a need to find out alternatives and also it is necessary to properly manage our fuel supply system," the  daily said. "If we made efforts to open trading points in our northern border with China, which remained closed for some time we will certainly get cooperation in this matter," it said adding that such a move will also reduce our dependence on India. Senior journalist Guna Raj Luitel in an article titled "Thank You India" published in the same daily, in a sarcastic tone, said, "thanks to the government of India for making us think about being an independent country and become self-reliant." "We are facing the prevailing situation due to our tendency to rely on others despite having abundant natural resources," Luitel said. "We need to move towards attaining economic prosperity and self-reliance if Nepal is to become an integrated and sovereign nation," he said. State-run daily Gorkhapatra in its editorial, states, "Is it appropriate to stage sit-in on the no-man's land along the Nepal India border by the agitating Madhesi cadres?" "It is natural for ordinary Nepali people to be concerned when obstacles are placed on free flow of daily necessity goods from India to landlocked Nepal," the daily said. "We could avoid shortage of essential commodities in the forthcoming festival season, if the two closed trading points Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi, lying on China border could be opened at the earliest," it said. "Nepal has always discouraged activities directed against the interest of its neighbours," said Annapurna Post, another popular vernacular daily, in its editorial column. "Now India has got involved in the micro-management of Nepal's affairs because of our over dependence on India," the daily said. "Our task of promulgating the Constitution has become chaotic due to our tendency to look for foreign guidance in our politics and constitution," it said.