Life can be run without great hardship even during the crisis provided that there is an effective distribution system
Poor distribution mechanism of petroleum products has led the common people to rely on other means of getting them either from the black market or by using their personal link with high authorities. Private vehicles are seen plying on the streets of the capital though the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) had distributed them fuel twice after the acute shortage of fuel occurred following the promulgation of the new constitution on September 20. Reports from various customs points reveal that a limited amount of petrol, diesel and cooking gas are entering the country, but the people are finding it very difficult to get them. People spend hours queuing in one after the other gas station hoping that they would get a few liters of petrol or diesel, but to no avail. While a number of people have resorted to smuggling petroleum products from across the border to make quick money, more worrying are the news reports that some of the oil supplied to the NOC is finding its way into the black market in the country. But the concerned authorities do not seem to be much bothered about controlling such unscrupulous activities which have caused much distress to the general people.
The concerned agencies and security personnel should not remain aloof from the prevailing situation which will cause considerable loss to the national economy. Once the black marketing of fuels and other essential commodities become a common phenomenon in society it will be an uphill task for the government to control it in the long run. It is the ordinary and low income people who will have to bear the brunt of this. The people who have been quite supportive to the government may lose their patience if the scarcity of fuel, medicine and other essential goods continues, particularly when they do not perceive that what is available is not being distributed in a fair manner. Although the government has announced a number of measures to end the fuel scarcity by importing petroleum products from China and Bangladesh, it must also assure the general public that whatever amount of fuels it gets will be distributed to the people throughout the country in an effective manner.
The government and the NOC need to make public the amount of petroleum products entering the country on a daily basis and the amounts distributed to the people to maintain transparency of their distribution. A fair number of security personnel should also be deployed at gas stations or in LPG refilling stations or distribution centres so that nobody can seize the cooking gas cylinders, petrol or diesel and sell them at exorbitant prices in the black market. Media reports also suggest that some employees at the NOC and Ministry of Supplies and Commerce are not cooperating with the government. The uncooperative employees should be replaced with honest ones to support the government fully. An effective mechanism should be developed to ensure that all the users can get a certain amount of fuel after a week or two in a hassle-free manner. So far the NOC has taken a number of experimental measures which have proved to be ineffective. Life can be run without great hardship even during the crisis provided that there is an effective distribution system.
Game of chance
Gambling is going unabated and it is only occasionally that we get to hear about gamblers being arrested. In a major anti-gambling operation carried out by the police in Kathmandu valley 17 gamblers were arrested in a Gaushala based house recently. The police raided the house at night after complaints from the neigbours saying that the house had become a gambling den. In the past few weeks, including Tihar, several such raids have been made. Gambling for high-stakes is an evil which has negative impact on society as it makes people bankrupt. The Gambling Act ,1963, still is in force which provides for light punishment for gamblers. It is high time the Act was amended to make it sufficiently tough.
Meanwhile, a distinction should be made between those who gamble with their friends for small stakes and mainly for entertainment and the others who are all out to make a fast buck, making losses high enough to make or mar gamblers. Meanwhile, the provision of not permitting Nepali citizens from gambling in casinos should be strictly enforced no matter who they are. Casino operators should be made responsible for letting Nepali gamble there.