Nepal official says India pledged to increase fuel supplies

AP News
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Posted: Oct 19, 2015 8:18 AM
Nepal official says India pledged to increase fuel supplies

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The deputy prime minister of fuel-starved Nepal said Monday that Indian officials have assured him of increased supplies.

Kamal Thapa returned home after meeting in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Ethnic Madhesi protesters in southern Nepal have been demonstrating against the makeup of states created by the country's new constitution by blocking a key border crossing with India, which supplies all of landlocked Nepal's fuel.

Thapa said the Indian leaders promised that fuel trucks lined up at the crossing would be rerouted and that more fuel would be supplied through other border points to ease the shortage.

"The Indian leaders have assured me that there will be no obstructions of the flow of trucks to Nepal from the points that are not blocked, fuel supply will be improved, and trucks that were stuck would be rerouted," Thapa told reporters at Kathmandu airport.

India, which has close cultural ties with the Madhesis, has expressed unhappiness over the constitution.

Protesters have blocked the main crossing point at Birgunj, where cargo trucks have been lined up for weeks.

The other border points are generally clear of protesters and trucks are moving without problems, but Nepal says it has not received much oil from its supplier, Indian Oil Corp.

Authorities have been providing a weekly ration of gasoline to taxis, a daily ration for public buses and no fuel for private cars.

The largest Madhesi group, the United Democratic Madhesi Front, has vowed to continue protesting until the government agrees to its demands. It says the new constitution unfairly divides Nepal into seven states with borders that cut through the Madhesis' ancestral homeland. The Madhesis and other small ethnic groups also want the states to be larger and to be given more autonomy over local matters.