BIRATNAGAR, April 24: Scarcity of diesel has hit consumers in eastern Nepal, adding to woes of the factories already suffering a huge loss in productions in recent week due to power cut attributed to low electricity import from India.
Officials of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said they could not manage supply as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has curtailed supply after the state-owned petroleum monopolist failed to release enough payment to finance normal imports.
"IOC is presently supplying us only 300 kiloliters (KL) of petroleum products in a day from Barauni refinery, whereas daily consumption of petroleum products in the eastern region is 700 KL," said Deepak Baral, chief of the regional depot of Birtanagar.
He told Republica that the corporation also has no stock to bridge the volume of import-sales gap, as the Indian supplier had been providing just around 500 KL of every a day in recent months.
"As a result, we supplied only 280 KL of diesel on Monday for distribution in 16 districts of the region," said Baral, referring that the supply is almost half of what the corporation was distributing every day in a normal situation.
Consequently, most of the petrol pumps in the eastern region closed their refilling stations hanging ´no petrol´ and ´no diesel´ signs. The region has 200 petrol pumps. The limited availability of fuel, on the other hand, has spurred black marketing, said Arbinda Sharma, general secretary of local Petroleum dealers Association (PDA), disclosing that some of the pumps themselves were selling diesel at Rs 105 per liter, which is Rs 16 higher than the government-fixed retail rates.
Industrialists, meanwhile, flayed the government for not being able to supply electricity as well as diesel - the industrial fuel. Following the problems in Duhabi-Kataiya transmission line, industrialists said they had already slashed their productions by 80 percent. "Scarcity of diesel has now forced us to shut down the factory," they said.
Keshar Bahadur Khadka, president of the Petroleum Dealers Association (PDA) said that the association has raised the concern over scarcity with the Ministry of Commerce and Supply (MoCS) as well. "Sadly, they have turned deaf ears to our pleas," he stated.
Industrialists plead for power, fuel
Industrialists in the eastern region have pleaded with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to supply power and fuel so that they can continue operating their factories.
Writing a letter to Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) and requesting it to deliver the message to the PM, Morang Merchants´ Association (MMA) and Morang Industries´ Association (MIA) have both pleaded for immediate action in order to prevent them from facing the unfortunate fate of industrial closure.
According to a statement, factories operating in the Morang-Sunsari industrial corridor consume 50 to 60 KL diesel per day.
"We ask the government to supply us necessary fuel. If not, we will have no option but to shut down the factories," reads their statement. The industrialists say scarcity of diesel on the back of power outage, which has soared to 16 hours a day, have broken their backs.