(This article has been updated since its original publication to include information on fuel consumption of Kathmandu. Special Thanks to Anil Dhakal for directing my attention to that statistics.)
The Home Ministry has issued an order to all district administration offices, Nepal Oil Corporation, Nepal Police and Nepal Armed Police Force to direct 75% of all fuel imports to Kathmandu. In other words, the Home Ministry has asked that 75% of all fuel (petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, liquified petroleum gas) that Nepal imports should be redirected to Kathmandu.
See the order signed by HomNath Khatri, the Home Minister of Nepal.
While it cannot be ignored that Kathmandu is facing a severe fuel crisis, the rest of Nepal is also suffering from the same fuel crisis and even worse due to lack of basic resources in the non-capital areas. Does this statement from the Home Ministry of Nepal take into account the interests of all Nepalis in different regions of Nepal?
Kathmandu accounts for 0.27% of the total area and 31% of total petroleum products consumed in Nepal. Similarly, it accounts for 6.58% of total population (according to 2011 census) and 15.58% of the total GDP but it is seeking 75% of the total fuel imports.
See below for some graphical comparisons of Kathmandu and rest of the Nepal in terms of area, population, share of economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the share of fuel demanded.
A Comparison of Nepal vs Kathmandu (Fuel Demanded by Home Ministry of Nepal)
The Home Ministry of Nepal has demanded that 75% of all fuel imported in Nepal be redirected to Kathmandu. This leaves only 25% of fuel imported for the rest of Nepal.
A Comparison of Nepal vs Kathmandu (Fuel Consumption by Type)
According to a survey report titled, ‘The Share of Kathmandu Valley in the National Economy’ published by Nepal Rastra Bank, the total petroleum products consumed by Kathmandu is about 31% of the total consumption in Nepal.
The fuel consumption in Kathmandu accounts for 60% of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), 45.5% of petrol, 15.5% of diesel and 37.6% of kerosene, compared to the total consumption in Nepal. If the fuel consumption in Kathmandu accounts for 31% of the total petroleum products, why is the Home Ministry seeking 75% of all fuel imported in Nepal for Kathmandu?
A Comparison of Kathmandu vs Nepal (Area, Population, Economy, Fuel Demanded)
A Comparison of Nepal vs Kathmandu (Total Fuel Consumption)
A Comparison of Nepal vs Kathmandu (by Population)
A Comparison of Nepal vs Kathmandu (by Economy, GDP)
The fuel shortages in Kathmandu has affected daily lives of people and operations such as garbage collection. See this post by Samir Mani Dixit.
यो दृष्य पाटन कृष्णगल्ली अगाडीको हो । यसको दोष मधेश आन्दोलन अथवा राज्यलाइ पनि दिन सकिन्छ तर नागरीकको जिम्मेवारी नी ? pic.twitter.com/UhbCL6XAb2
— समीरमणि दीक्षित (@smadixit) October 30, 2015
Kathmandu is not the only district suffering in Nepal due to fuel crisis and the unrest in Tarai-Madhes, the southern plains of Nepal. As a matter of fact, as Kathmandu enters 37th day of fuel crisis, Tarai enters 81st day of the indefinite strike that has crippled life, severely affected supply of food items, fuel and led to a humanitarian crisis. Read, “Impact of Tarai Unrest in Southern Nepal“. The ordinary Madhesis have not had two square meals a day since more than a month.
Similarly, the earthquake survivors of Nepal have also been suffering due to the fuel crisis. The essential food items cannot be airlifted to affected regions because of the severe fuel crisis. Similarly, several villages in the hills have run out of LPG gas for cooking and do not have easy access to firewood or forests. See this report by international journalist Subina Shrestha about how fuel shortages are affecting quake affected areas.
The political leaders in Kathmandu are completely out of touch with the ground realities in the rest of Nepal.
Ignoring the demands of Madhesis is one thing but issuing such statements with interest of just Kathmandu is a clear sign of internal colonization.
If the political leaders in Kathmandu cannot empathize with the suffering of their fellow citizens in Tarai Madhes and earthquake affected regions, people will gradually lose trust in them and be forced to revolt.