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Open border: Fuel smuggling continues unabated


Ashok Ghimire, KATHMANDU: Police on February 14 took under control a fuel tanker belonging to the Jaya Gaurishankar Transport Service Pvt Ltd, one of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC)’s transporters.
Police had impounded the tanker after it was found transporting 1,360 litres diesel towards India illegally in its chamber and fuel tank. Following this episode, the NOC sealed the Shweta Oil Centre at Jagarnathpur of Parsa which filled the tanker and forwarded legal action against it. NOC also initiated action against the tanker involved in smuggling out fuel, in accordance with Petroleum Products Transportation Regulations, 2073 (Third Amendment). NOC, a few months back, wrote to the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police seeking investigation after two tankers bringing in petrol from India were found involved in smuggling the fuel in the false chamber and thereby cheating NOC. It was established through police investigation that the two tankers had been smuggling out fuel through the false chamber and selling that in India thereby incurring losses to NOC. The Bureau has arrested Ajaya Lama and Bikesh Lama of Amlekhgunj, Bara for their involvement in the smuggling and initiated investigation against them.
Similarly, an Armed Police Force (APF)’s team confiscated 4,200 litres diesel from Krishnanagar Municipality-2, Kapilbastu. The fuel was being smuggled out towards India in seven tankers by making false bottom. Police deposited the confiscated fuel at the Customs Office Krishnanagar. These are but a few cases of fuel smuggling taking place through the open border between Nepal and India. These incidents prove that petroleum products are being smuggled out towards India as its price is higher there compared to its price in Nepal. Fuel smugglers are taking advantage of the porous Nepal-India border. Petrol is cheaper in Nepal by 33 rupees 42 paisa per litre and diesel by 39 rupees 61 paisa per litre, compared to the bordering area in India.
NOC officials acknowledge that fuel smuggling is taking place unabated due to the open border and the cheaper price of fuel in Nepal. With the increase in smuggling cases of petroleum products towards India from border areas, the NOC had sent circular to all provincial offices last months and directed all provincial offices to implement the action plan for control of misappropriation of petroleum products taking place in border areas.
NOC Spokesperson Binitmani Upadhyay said that they had asked the offices to inspect at least five petrol pumps in the border area daily, to monitor petrol pumps within its sales area and petrol pumps located along postal highway, petrol pumps located on five kilometers towards North from postal highway. He said that petrol pumps in the border areas have been banned from selling petrol and diesel in drums, jerry cans and other things. Action has been taken against the trucks and tankers smuggling petroleum products in accordance with the Petroleum products Transportation Regulations, 2073 BS and the Petrol Pump Vendors Regulations, 2075 BS, added Upadhyay.
The Transportation Regulations 2073 BS has made an arrangement to recover double the amount of loss from the transporter if it is found to have caused damage to the corporation by connecting other fittings than the approved standards in the truck and tanker. Similarly, there is a provision that license of petroleum product seller selling it against the direction of the NOC might be scrapped. General Secretary of Federation of Nepal Petroleum Transport Entrepreneurs, Bishwo Prasad Aryal, said that there is smuggling of petroleum products due to Nepal-India open border. He further argued that though tanker drivers are found involved in smuggling of fuel by constructing false bottom, involvement of NOC employees are also found in some incidents. Stressing the need of controlling the smuggling of petroleum products and stern action against those involved on it, Aryal said the NOC would always get their support for the same. The NOC had taken action against around 1,000 trucks and tankers for their involvement in smuggling and misappropriating the petroleum products in last three months.

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