New Delhi : Nepal and India are trying to bridge the gap and remove blockages of land routes caused between the two countries due to anti-constitution agitations from Nepalese side after their new constitution took shape. In a latest move, India has agreed to facilitate airlift of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to Nepal and bring respite from the supply shortage.
China, on the other hand, has agreed and extended its facilities to supply oil to Nepal, a move taken before India, which itself has put India on a position of discomfort and raised concerns. In the wake of China agreeing to supply oil to Nepal, India on Friday offered to airlift Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) to the Himalayan country to beat the ongoing blockade on the border.
Reacting cautiously to the agreement between Nepal and China for oil supplies, India expressed its deep concerns and said its impact on the future of Indo-Nepal trade has to be taken into account, and hoped that Kathmandu would sincerely address the problems which have caused the current situation and that the bilateral relationship between India and Nepal would return to its original warmth and neighbor-comfort.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India was ready to facilitate airlifting of the Aviation turbine fuel, as was done in past. He stated that India is also keen to enable re-routing of LPG supplies, via those crossings which were not affected by this blockage and disruptive elements from Nepal side. He said – We have seen reports that Nepal has signed a pact with China. Nepal’s maximum trade is through India. As far as petroleum products are concerned, 70 per cent of petrol is supplied through Raxaul-Birganj point (which is choked by the agitators). How is this (Nepal-China) pact going to help has to be seen.
When asked about Nepal signing an agreement with China for the supply of petroleum products following the shortages caused by the blockade of land routes from India due to unrest over the new Constitution, Swarup added – We will certainly be concerned over growth of any anti-India sentiment in Nepal and we hope that the situation which has been caused entirely by problems on the Nepalese side will be resolved at the earliest and our relationship would once again return to its original status. Asserting that India had not imposed any blockade from this side of the land, the spokesperson from External Affairs ministry clarified that the supply was stopped because Nepal’s one section of the society was not in agreement on provisions of the Constitution and disrupted supplies from Indian side. In his words – We have facilitated airlift of aviation turbine fuel earlier and we are ready to facilitate future similar operations and requests. We are also facilitating re-routing of LPG supplies from those crossings which are not affected. We hope that such a political resolution of issues facing Nepal would be institutionalized in a manner that would ensure broad-based ownership and acceptance of the Constitution by all section of the society including those disaffected agitating forces.
Swarup added that Indo-Nepal economic relations have been seen as diverse, multifaceted and deep rooted. He added the bilateral relationships between India and Nepal stand on their own merit and have natural logic, and almost two-thirds of Nepal trade depends on mutual business partnership is with India, wherein bulk of the third country trade passes through India. Nearly half of the foreign investments in Nepal is from India and India-Nepal corridor thus plays a vital role between trade transactions of the two countries,