India tightens blockade, leaves Nepal struggling

nepalblockKATHMANDU: Indian authorities tightened Bhairahawa-Sunauli border point and prevented fuel tankers and essentials from entering Nepal on Wednesday.Although there is no obstruction at the border for the past one week, the Indian side restricted the Nepal-bound cargoes, citing order from the “higher authority”.

Chief of Bhairahawa Customs Office Labanya Dhakal said cargo movement came to an abrupt halt from Tuesday afternoon.

Around a dozen trucks carrying vegetables, fruits and other items were allowed to enter in the morning.

Shanta Kumar Sharma of the customs office said there are around 54 tankers of fuel and 33 gas bullets stranded in the Indian side. He added that the cargo trucks are stranded along the 35 km stretch of Sunauli area.

Meanwhile, the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) Supporters torched a tipper transporting diesel drums at Gurubaniya area along the Bhairahawa-Lumbini road stretch.

The SLMM activists had also tried to burn another truck  carrying diesel at Hatibangai VDC on Tuesday, police said.

Superintendent of Police Buddhiraj Gurung said the protesters intercepted the truck that had entered Nepal from Marchawar area in southern Rupandehi and tried to set it on fire.

They were, however, stopped by police.

Meanwhile people in Morang and Sunsari districts took to the streets to protest UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s proposal of resolving the federalism dispute by aligning some parts of Morang and Sunsari with state-2.

Hundreds of people representing various backgrounds demanded that the two districts should not be disintegrated at any cost.

The rallies were also supported by eight political parties, including UCPN (Maoist).

Meanwhile Minister for Health and Population Ram Janam Chaudhary has warned drugs suppliers that he would scrap their agreement if they fail to deliver drugs in a week.

The reaction from the newly-appointed minister comes amid complaints from government hospitals that the agents, which have won contracts to supply drugs, expressed their inability to deliver them on time owing to the ongoing border blockade.

The agents have not delivered essential medical supplies to many government hospitals, including Bir Hospital and Gangalal Heart Centre, citing that their goods have been stuck on the Indian side of the border.

Minister Chaudhary said there is no point in keeping the bidders if they cannot deliver their goods.

“We are ready to help them get their cargoes across the border or airlift them. They should find a way around that. Or else, I have no other option but to scrap their contracts,” he said.

He said the Indian embassy had sent him an email on Tuesday, asking for details about vehicles ferrying drugs.

“I will respond to that email on Thursday and provide them with the details,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Chemists and Druggists Association said it had written to the Indian drugs suppliers to re-route their vehicles towards Bhairahawa-Sunauli border point instead of the Birgunj-Raxual point.

“Some of the companies have already begun sending drugs through that route,” said Mrigendra Mehar Shrestha, president of the association. – Edited from Kathmandu Post

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