Crisis-hit Nepal Looks up to China Fuel, But India Yet to Press Panic Button

Published: 31st October 2015 05:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2015 05:30 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI:  With fuel supplies to Nepal set to begin from China, India is yet to press the panic button, at least publicly, with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) still skeptical about its impact as over 70 per cent of Nepalese crude demand is through two disturbed border posts along India.

On Wednesday, Nepal and China signed a fuel supply pact and Nepali tankers are on the way to the border posts to be filled up with Chinese petrol. 

The Nepal government had publicly termed that fuel shortage was due to an ‘informal’ blockade by India, but India claimed the restrictions were due to agitation on the Nepali side of the border by Madhesis.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Friday that Nepal’s maximum trade “is and through India”. He termed Indo-Nepal economic ties as “diverse multi-faceted, deep-rooted, standing on their own merit and have natural logic”.

Two-thirds of Nepal trade is with India and bulk of the third country trade passes through India, with nearly half of the foreign investments in Nepal from India, added Swarup.

“As far as petroleum products are concerned, 70 per cent of petrol is supplied through Raxaul-Birganj point. How is this pact going to help has to be seen,” he said.

Sources said the Chinese grant of 1,000 tonnes of fuel would be enough for only a day or two. Due to the mountainous terrain and resulting high transportation cost, fuel supplied through China would be more expensive.

Swarup reiterated Indian position that there was no blockade by India, but that the supply was stopped because one section of Nepal’s society was not in agreement on provisions of the Constitution.

“We have facilitated airlift of aviation turbine fuel earlier and we are ready to facilitate future similar operations and requests. We are also help in re-routing of LPG supplies from those crossings, which are not affected,” said Swarup.

Perhaps, indicating that New Delhi has not seen signs of seriousness among the Nepal government about finding a solution to the Madhesi stir, Swarup said, “There has to be an acknowledgment of the problem that exists on the Nepalese side and efforts made to address them”.


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