POKHARA, March 14: Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) is planning to expand its fuel storage capacity at the Gagangaunda depot. According to the officials of the NOC, the current storage at the depot is not able to meet the demand and needs to be expanded to fulfill the current market demand.
According to Pushkar Karki, head of Gagangaunda depot, the depot has the storage capacity of 2.2 million liters of diesel, 350,000 liters of petrol and 760,000 liters of kerosene. After the increase in capacity, the depot will have the capacity to store 10 million liters of diesel and 2.63 million liters of petrol. NOC plans to construct two plants to store 5 million liters of diesel and the current plant used for diesel will store petrol.
“If any situation occurs, then we will be unable to meet the demand of fuel. So, we are compelled to expand the storage capacity,” said Karki, “NOC has already started the tender process to select the construction company for the expansion of storage. We are now analyzing the interested companies. The central office of NOC has forwarded the required procedures.”
Gagangaunda depot was established in 2001 to distribute fuel in Pokhara. NOC purchased 77 ropanis of land to establish the depot. “Additional land was purchased then for the expansion of the capacity of the depot in future. Currently, additional land is not required,” he said, “It is not necessary to occupy land for the expansion project.”
According to Karki, NOC does not have the manpower for the required technical work and they need to seek help from the Indian Oil Corporation. NOC has plans to expand the capacity within three to four years. The current fuel storage capacity can fulfill the demand of petrol for four days and diesel for 12 days in Pokhara. The Gagangaunda depot also distributes fuel to Tanahun, Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Myagdi, and Baglung districts.
Locals in Gagangaunda have expressed dissatisfaction regarding the expansion of the fuel capacity at the depot. The local residents have requested the NOC to construct the storage far away from human settlement as storage of fuel near the settlement can invite accidents easily.
“The storage of fuel in large capacity between human settlements can destroy the whole area during fire. So, we have requested the NOC to store fuel far away from human settlement,” said local Bel Bahadur Gurung. According to Gurung, during the construction of the depot in 2001, locals had protested against it but the storage of fuel was in low capacity and the protest was withdrawn.
“We are not obstructing against increasing fuel capacity but the fuel is being stored in huge volume which can invite casualties at any time if there are any accidents and we are insecure about it,” said Gurung.
According to Karki, the central office has been studying the impact and the measures to be taken for safe handling of fuel in the depot. “It is natural for locals to become scared after fuel will be stored in large volume. But the depot will carry out needed safety precautions,” said Karki, “We are discussing with the locals regarding the expansion of the storage capacity and safety mechanisms that will be in place.”