India resumes fuel supplies to Nepal
India resumed fuel supplies to Nepal through its Raxaul border after agitating Madhesis called off their strike that had caused acute shortage of fuel in the country. Indian Oil Corporation's Raxaul depot resumed supplies after blockades were removed from the Maitreyi Bridge connecting Indian and Nepal. 300,000 litres of petroleum products were loaded into Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) tankers enroute to Nepal.
On 22 September 2015, Nepal got a new constitution and with it came the unrest by the Madhesis who were unhappy with the 7 province clause in the constitution.
The key trade checkpoints to India were blocked by hundreds of demonstrators protesting Nepal's new constitution. The blockade cut off essential supplies to Nepal and several trucks carrying gas cylinders and petroleum products were stalled at Birjung, the Nepal-India border. The Indian envoy reached out to top Nepali leaders and affirmed them that the difficulty was due to "unrest in the region."
Nepal blamed India for having created the border blockade by shutting down transportation of all goods across the border. Many Nepalese newspapers reported that India's checkpoints were insisting upon lengthy security checks that were prohibiting cargo from passing. However, India insisted that it had not halted the movement of goods and that the tension was created by Madhesi party protestors.
India's unhappiness with Nepal's new constitution comes from its position that the new constitution "doesn't fairly treat the citizens of Nepal who live just across the Indian border."
Nepal knocked the UN's door over the apparent blocking of the principal border trade points with India. The Nepalese leadership pointed out that this has caused an acute deficit of quintessential goods and it requested the international community to assure that "landlocked countries' freedom of transit is not curtailed." Deputy PM Prakash Man Singh led a delegation to Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon for this.
Offering some respite to Nepal, over 100 trucks carrying essential goods and petroleum products entered Nepal from India. This was sure to put a brief dent in the fuel shortage of commodities due to the blockades. Freight trucks carrying medicines, cooking fuel and gasoline that had been stranded since 11 days due to the embargo also came across the border.
Nepal is looking to re-open the trade routes to China (which were closed after earthquake) to counter the continuing blockade of Indian entry points by Madhesi agitators. There are 7 such routes that link China to Nepal. Tatopani is the most intrinsic of these passes and it will be reopened; however, it is not yet clear if petroleum products can be transported across it.
Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli entreating upon the Panchsheel principles requested India to "immediately lift the undeclared blockade" which has been imposed on Nepal. He said this move would help strengthen bilateral-ties which would provide support in the face of the recent political crisis over Nepal's new Constitution. Oli also requested adjoining countries "to honour Nepal's territorial integrity, national sovereignty and independence".
The Panchsheel doctrine is a "set of principles to govern relations between states." Its first official codification in treaty form was an agreement between China and India in 1954.
The Nepali Deputy Prime Minister, on a tour to India said that a deal to end the economic blockade had been reached between his government and the protesting Madhesis. He stated that a three step political agreement to implement constitutional amendments granting territory and socio-political rights to the Madhesi community has been initiated. The consensus is in its preliminary stages.
The Nepal government has agreed to amend the Constitution to address two key demands of the Madhesi people on representation and constituency delimitation, a move that may end the protests in the Terai region. The decision was taken at an emergency Cabinet meeting on Sunday. The government also adopted a political mechanism to resolve disputes over the proposed provincial boundaries within a fixed timeframe.