Nepalese stuck between petrol and politics

India
Nepal
10-11-15-Nepal-Petro-Politics-590x393.jpg

Many buses are not running and bus stations are completely overcrowded in Kathmandu. by Emily Korstanje

What was once Nepal’s overwhelmingly bustling and busy capital city, Kathmandu has dramatically slowed down. Traffic has moved from the road to massive queues where drivers must wait several days for fuel, hoping it is still available by the time they reach the petrol station. Schools are closing, restaurants have been forced to shut down, travelling throughout the country is about four times the average price and aircrafts have to stop by neighbouring countries for aviation fuel in order to make long journeys.

Cars lining up as far as the eye can see for several days, waiting for petrol in Pokhara.

Emily Korstanje

Still recovering from the devastating earthquake in April, everyone in Nepal has been brutally affected by a lack of crucial supplies coming into the country. People who were injured during the earthquake are not able to get to work without their vehicles, forcing them to close their shops as they wait in line for several days just to get a week’s worth of fuel.

Motorbikes lining up and waiting several days for petrol in Pokhara.

Emily Korstanje

Hotels are struggling to survive without cooking gas to make food for their guests. Some are using their destroyed buildings as firewood, including hotel owner Oasis Bhaju. ‘We have no other choice but to use the remains of our house to cook food,’ he said. ‘When that runs out, we will have to close our hotel unless we get fuel soon.’

People camping out in front of their motorbikes near a petrol station in Pokhara, hoping to get a bit of fuel.

Emily Korstanje

The landlocked country relies solely on India for its fuel. Nepal has accused India of an undeclared fuel blockade, but India denies this and has stated instead that the fuel trucks are not able to enter the country as a result of violent protests along the border. The people of Nepal are highly sceptical.

Sitting on top of a bus, which is normally illegal, has been temporarily allowed because of the fuel crisis.

Emily Korstanje

After witnessing the country’s obvious disapproval of Nepal’s new constitution, India’s top diplomat, according to a BBC article, was sent to discuss the constitution before it was implemented. He is believed to have pressed the Nepalese government to delay the adoption of the constitution and hold discussions with political groups opposed to it.

A woman walking past one of the many #backoffindia signs.

Emily Korstanje

Nepal saw this as interfering with government affairs and grew angrier when India commented that everyone should be included in the new constitution – referring to the Madhesis, an indigenous group that has protested against elements within the new constitution.

Garbage is overflowing in normal pick up spots in Patan, Kathmandu as trucks have not been able to collect waste.

Emily Korstanje

The Madhesis, who share strong ethnic ties with India, are against the fact that the new constitution will split the Terai area where they live into two provinces. They fear that the northern part of the new provinces will dominate the already marginalized people.

A girl standing with her bag of food next to the heap of waste.

Emily Korstanje

Nepal’s strong belief that the fuel crisis is a result of India’s ‘interference’ resulted in the nationwide hashtag ‘#backoffindia’, which is seen throughout the country and accompanied by the slogan ‘Let the world know that India has cut petroleum and other supplies to Nepal because Nepal didn’t let it interfere with politics.’

More people on top of an overcrowded bus.

Emily Korstanje

Despite all the back-and-forth statements, Nepal has tried to assure India that they will create a safe path if they would allow the supply trucks to come in. India responded by declaring that, first, Nepal must settle the dispute with the people of the Terai, and that cross-border supplies can then resume.

A man showing an X-Ray of metal rods placed in his legs after they were shattered during the earthquake. His business had to close until he received a small amount of petrol to get to work. He told us this was very common and happened to many people he knows.

Emily Korstanje

Desperate for fuel and trying to break free from what’s believed to be India’s stronghold over the country, Nepal is reaching out to the Chinese government for supplies.

Protestors, in the Terai area, shattered the windshields and windows of busses headed back to Kathmandu after their largest festival, Dashain.

Jeff Davids

The biggest problem facing this approach is the terrain. The earthquake destroyed the already dangerous road to China, and trying to prepare it for several tanks to get through safely will be a difficult and hazardous task. A risk that Nepal has to take as the crisis is getting worse.

Nepal’s suffering will continue as long as crucial supplies are kept from entering the country.