KATHMANDU: Importers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) have warned that they will launch a protest from September 17 if the government does not take decisive steps to obtain explosive licences for Nepali gas bullets from Indian authorities.
Gas bottlers say they have spent Rs7 billion to buy tank trucks to transport LPG from India, but they can’t ply them for lack of explosive licences.
Last year, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) issued permits to private gas bottling companies to procure 775 gas bullets. Among them, 57 gas bullets are ready for delivery, and 400 are being built.
Speaking at a meeting of the sub-committee of the parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee on Friday, Shiva Ghimire, former president of the Nepal LP Gas Industry Association, said they had no choice but to disrupt supply from September 17 as they had made a huge investment in the gas bullets, and it had been put at risk.
Ghimire accused the Supplies Ministry and NOC of not taking enough interest and putting them in this predicament.
According to the association, explosive licences are issued by the regional office of the Explosive Department in Nagpur, India. “Department officials have been refusing to issue licences saying that they had not received any circular from higher officials of the Indian government,” Ghimire said. “If the government had initiated talks at the political level, this would have been resolved in a short time.”
As per the association, gas bottlers have made deals with Indian companies to transport LPG to Nepal only till November 16 as they expected to use their own trucks after that date. “If Indian transporters stop bringing LPG, there will be a shortage,” Ghimire said.
Supplies Secretary Krishna Devkota said they had written to Indian authorities through the Foreign Ministry a number of times. “However, our pleas have remained unheard so far,” said Devkota. He adding that gas bottlers could not violate the Essential Goods Protection Act by disrupting the supply of an essential product just to protest against the delay in the issuance of explosive licences.
Meanwhile, NOC has urged the government to initiate talks at higher levels in order to allow Nepali bullets to ply in Indian territory. “Despite doing our best, NOC has been unable to obtain explosive licences for Nepali gas bullets,” NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka said.
Lawmakers also expressed concern at the way the investment made by gas bottlers had been put at risk. “As the government has issued permits by collecting fees from private companies, it should assume responsibility for getting them the explosive licences,” said Lawmaker Deepak Karki.
Another Lawmaker Rajya Laxmi Shrestha blamed NOC and the Supplies Ministry for being apathetic about a matter related to the supply of essentials which directly affect the daily life of the general public. Meanwhile, the parliamentary sub-committee has issued a three-day deadline to the Supplies Ministry to present a progress report on its initiative to acquire the licences from India. It also directed the ministry to coordinate with the concerned authorities and start talks at the diplomatic level to resolve the issue shortly.
– THE KATHMANDU POST