KATHMANDU, May 16: The government has expedited its search for land to store petroleum products to be imported from China in line with the agreement reached with the northern neighbor on fuel imports.
With a view to identifying such land prior to Prime Minister KP Oli’s China visit in June, the authorities have been looking for petroleum storage space in Nuwakot, Lalitpur and Tanahun districts. The government plans to inform China about a petroleum storage site by May 24.
The Oli government had inked an agreement with China on importing petroleum from the north. The aim was to end the Indian monopoly in petroleum product supplies, in the wake of the 2015-16 Indian blockade of this landlocked country.
A team led by Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Joint Secretary Labaraj Joshi has concluded a field study in Nuwakot and Tanahun. The team is scheduled to visit Chhampi in Lalitpur also for field observations. “We have concluded field observations at Battar, Nuwakot and Khairenitar, Tanahun. Our report will be submitted to the Foreign Ministry after a field visit to Chhampi,” Joshi told Republica.
According to him, a minimum of 335 ~Iropani~I will be needed for the storage facility. (One ropani equals 5,476 square feet.) The storage facility is expected to have capacity for 90 days’ fuel supply for the country.
The committee is to identify government land not farther than one kilometer from a major highway and not too close to the forests. Deputy Director of Nepal Oil Corporation Rabin Chandra Adhikari, Manager Diwakar Mallik and ministry official Ambika Rai are members of the committee. The team identified 200 ropani at Battar. Acquisition of 135 ropani of private land will be needed.
The team has also identified over 300 ropani of government land at Khairanitar. But a bridge will have to be constructed over the Suklagandaki River to reach the area. The team has held interactions with stakeholders concerning setting up the storage station in the area. Team head Joshi informed that a report will be submitted to the ministry after the field inspection at Chhampi, which will take place after NOC Deputy Director Adhikari returns from his India visit.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had written to the Supplies Ministry to suggest a site for the petroleum storage facility by May 24. The ministry had started looking for the land following the recent China visit of Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali. Chinese technicians have already visited some places in Nuwakot and Rasuwa for environment impact assessments.