India border strike causing problems in Nepal

posted by Judy Gray with information from Suresh Shrestha

Dale Dodge recently received an email from Suresh Shrestha, coordinator of Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, and our partner in Nepal. Suresh was writing to let us know about a new and difficult situation facing the people in that country. Suresh writes:

The life of people has been crippled due to 45 days of an undisclosed blockade by India since the promulgation of the new constitution. Being landlocked Nepal is heavily dependent on trade routes with India. The biggest route is in Birgunj/Raxaul from where about 70% of fuel is supplied; and this route has been totally blocked for the last 45 days.” The effects of this strike and the route blockade are devastating and have created some of the following problems:  

~ Huge fuel crisis. Just to get 5 liters of fuel, it is required to line up for 4-5 days.
~ Huge shortage of cooking gas
~ Shortage of food supplies and increased prices up to 100%, which are mainly imported from India
~ Schools closed for last two months, especially in town, where children need to go by bus

Suresh continues by describing the effects of this blockade in Ramechhap:

“~ Nepal Oil Co-operation is supplying fuel to two gas satiations of Manthali, on the recommendation from Chief District Officer. But this is not regular. Our hospital ambulance will get the diesel while taking to patient to Kathmandu. We are also getting diesel for hospital generator.
~ Vehicular movement in Ramechhap is less, but not much over-loaded from Kathmandu-Manthali-Kathmandu
~  Less vehicle movement in other parts other parts of Ramechhap
~ The prices of foods and other goods are increased due to transportation and less & shortage in supply
~  People are now started to use fuel-wood for cooking.
~ Schools are running as the students don’t need to travel by any vehicle.”

We are hoping that this situation will be resolved soon as an increase in the price of goods and food is yet another challenge the people have faced during the past year. His entire email and explanation follows.  
The life of people has been cripple down due to 45 days undisclosed blockade by India since the promulgation of the new constitution. Being landlocked we are heavily dependant on trade route with India. There are major 7 trade route/border in India. Out out them somehow 6 routes are operating, but they are in smooth operation. The biggest route in Birgunj/Raxaul where about 70% of fuel is supplied through this route and this is has been totally blocked since last 45 days. There has been on-going biggest strike in this area. Nepal government is unofficially claiming that it is sponsored by India. India govt is saying they have not blockaded, it is due to on-going strike in terai border. Thousand of fuel loaded to truck are struck in India, which is on the way back via Birgunj/Raxaul. Indian custom are not allowing to pass the vehicle saying this is order from top. Nepali security forces could pass the struck trucks from border side. But the protestors are staging strike in the border of India. In few days ago, one Indian protestor were killed by police firing due to clash in Terai. It seems that neighboring Indian are also the part of the protestors. Not all the terai people are participating in the strike. Nepal has only one major trade route which is Khasa, but this route is not well functioning due to the earthquake. Another China route (Rasuwa-Kerung) has opened. There has been official deal between Nepal govt & China govt to supply the fuel to Nepal. Last week, China has provided 1000 metric tones of fuel on grant basis. They are coming this Kerung route but the road is very landside prone and rocky area. Twelve fuel-loaded trucks are already arrived in Kathmandu through this route.

The overall major affects of the blockade are as follows:

1.    Huge fuel crisis. Just to get 5 liters fuel, it is required to line up for 4-5 days. Especially there is huge crisis of petrol, compared to diesel
2.    Huge shortage of cooking gas
3.    Very less vehicular movement
4.    Shortage of food supplies and increased the prices upto 100%, which are mainly imported from India
5.    Closer for schools for last two months, especially in town, where children need to go by bus
6.    Temporary closer of industries due to non-supply of raw materials
7.    Over-loaded passengers in Kathmandu and in many remote parts due to less vehicle movement

Situation in Ramechhap,

1.  Nepal Oil Co-operation is supplying fuel to two gas satiations of Manthali, on the recommendation from Chief District Officer. But this is not regular. Our hospital ambulance will get the diesel while taking to patient to Kathmandu. We are also getting diesel for hospital generator.
2.  Vehicular movement in Ramechhap is less, but not much over-loaded from Kathmandu-Manthali-Kathmandu
3.  Less vehicle movement in other parts other parts of Ramechhap
4.  The prices of foods and other goods are increased due to transportation and less & shortage in supply
5.  People are now started to use fuel-wood for cooking.
6.  Schools are running as the students don’t need to travel by any vehicle.

Regards,
Suresh