KATHMANDU, Sept 9: The sub-committee on Supplies and Consumers Interest under the Committee on Commerce, Industries and Consumer Welfare Relation of parliament has instructed the government to immediately resolve the problem for Nepali gas bullets in getting explosive clearance certificate from the Indian government.
The reluctance of the Indian authority to issue such certificates to bullets owned by Nepali owners has stopped the latter from transporting cooking gas to Nepal.
Concluding that the government has not seriously taken steps in getting the explosive clearance certificates to operate Nepali LPG bullets from the concerned Indian authority, the sub-committee has directed the government to make diplomatic as well as political initiatives toward allowing Nepali bullets to transport cooking gas.
The meeting of the sub-committee held on Friday also ordered the government to furnish all details of works and efforts carried out by the Nepal Oil Corporation and the Ministry of Supplies to get Indian permit on transportation of LP gas from India through bullets owned by Nepali traders.
The sub-committee has also decided to summon officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Supplies in the upcoming meeting to explain to the parliamentarians about the problem, legal provisions of explosive certificates, and possible solutions for the problem.
Domestic LPG bottlers say that India's refusal to issue explosive certificate to the gas bullets from the southern neighbor has put their billions of rupees at risk. According to the bottlers, they initiated the process after the NOC issued them the permits for 775 gas bullets.
Shiva Prasad Ghimire, the outgoing president of Nepal Liquefied Petroleum Gas Industry Association, told the sub-committee meeting that gas bottlers have been left in lurch after making them invest billions in the procurement of gas bullets. According to Ghimire, 400 out of the 775 gas bullets that they have ordered are ready for delivery. Among them, two empty bullets have already come to Nepal after they were denied the explosive permission to carry cooking gas.
Similarly, remaining 375 bullets are also ordered by the domestic bottlers upon the bank guarantee.
He said that it costs Rs 7 million for a bullet which means that they are likely to lose Rs 280 million if they don't get the explosive permission from Indian authority while all in all around Rs 5.4 billion is at risk.
"As these bullets have not been given the explosive certificate, they are going to be useless. We can neither operate those gas bullets in India nor are we allowed to sell them. This is going to cause us losses in billions if the government does not immediately and seriously take this issue with the Indian high-level," he added.
The Indian authority, particularly Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), is said to have denied giving the explosive certificate needed to transport the cooking gas. Though the organization has not given any reason, Nepali officials assume that the authority might have been reluctant to issue such certificate to Nepali bullets at the behest of Indian bullet owners who are likely to lose market share.
WARN OF PROTEST
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) entrepreneurs have warned that they would halt supply of LPG gas from September 17 if the government did not facilitate the process of getting explosive permission from the Indian government. While the NOC, MoS and domestic bottlers had pressed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to raise this issue during his recent state visit to India, it did not feature on his agenda.
Domestic bottlers argue that the government has not been taking their problem seriously but has been showing 'mere formality' of corresponding through letters with the Indian authorities. "We have been compelled to announce the protest of halting the supply. The government officials are passing the buck from one ministry to the other," Ghimire said.