Call it a late awakening.
The undeclared Indian blockade eased long ago, but cooking gas continues to be in short supply. It appears the government came to know about this hard truth just now, for it is conducting a study to find the reason behind the gas crunch.
Dipak Subedi, spokesperson at the Ministry of Supplies, said the ministry has constituted an investigation and recommendation committee to deal with the crisis, in the wake of charges that gas industries and sellers are involved in black-marketing of cooking gas.
The committee formed under Uttam Nagila, joint-secretary at the ministry, has consumer rights activists and representatives of Gas Industries Association, Gas Dealers’ Association and Nepal Oil Corporation as members.
Consumers have not gotten any relief even after increase in the supply of cooking gas, Subedi noted, adding: We have formed a committee to check where the cooking gas vanished. He said the committee will help create an environment in which consumers will get cooking gas easily.
The committee has already started its work. On Thursday, it monitored the distribution systems of some gas industries. The monitoring started from Nepal Gas Industries, committee member and Nepal Oil Corporation’s Spokesperson Mukunda Ghimire said.
Our monitoring is focused on making the distribution system more effective so that consumers get cooking gas easily, Ghimire said, adding: We are taking this initiative because consumers’ complaints have not subsided even after improvement in the gas supply situation.
According to NOC, after the blockade, Nepal was getting 4,000 tonne gas every month. Twenty days into the month of March, Nepal has imported 19,000 tonne gas from India. Monthly import is expected to reach 25,000 tonne by March-end.
Subedi said: We often hear that hotels, restaurants and party palaces are getting cooking gas easily. This is true, to a great extent. In some cases, gas industries are at fault. Dealers too are involved in black-marketing.
He noted that the gas control unit, set up to improve the NOC’s distribution system, has failed to solve this problem.