My Republica, March 19, 2020
KATHMANDU: A numbers of gasoline sellers have been found to be involved in the black marketing of the petroleum products taking undue advantage of soaring demand for essentials amid ongoing threat of COVID-19 and weak government monitoring.
While the unscrupulous gas dealers have been selling new cylinders by not refueling old cylinders of cooking gas to the usual customers, many such refueling pumps are found hoarding petroleum products to sell at the black market.
People are compelled to stay in queue for over a week to purchase cooking gas and the motorists have been forced to stay in queue for hours.
In this regard, the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection on Tuesday slapped cash penalty of Rs 200,000 each against Satyal and Kirana Pasal in Tika Bhairab, Lalitpur and Maitidevi Oil Store in Maitidevi, Kathmandu, for the misconduct.
During the market inspection, the department found Maitidevi Oil Store hanging a notice board of 'No Petrol' at its outlet while keeping 4,000 liters of petrol in stock.
According to the department officials, the fuel station was slapped the amount on the spot on Tuesday night.
Likewise, Satyal and Kirana Pasal had been hoarding cooking gas creating an artificial shortage. According to the department, the traders were slapped the cash penalty based on the provision of the Consumer Protection Act 2018.
Of late, the government has aggressively cracked down on traders who are involved in black marketing of essentials.
Likewise, the government agencies through repeated notices have also cautioned the traders not to create artificial shortages in the market.
Issuing a press release on Wednesday, the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) too has warned to take stern action against those who create artificial shortage of fuel.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the department collected Rs 850,000 in fines from the retailers of groceries, gas dealers and petrol pumps for being involved in market anomalies.
Despite the government initiatives, the chaos has been witnessed mainly in the supply of essential food items, preventive health kits and petroleum products.
Since India announced that it would seal its borders as a preventive measure and the heavy fall in the prices of crude oils in the international market, the short supply of fuels has started to appear in the domestic market.
For the past few days, many private petrol pumps have even declined to purchase adequate fuel citing further decline in the oil prices. On the other hand, the NOC has claimed to be supplying petroleum products as in the normal days.
“We have been providing sufficient petrol from Thankot depot as per the demand of the petrol pumps in the valley and adjoining areas,” said Binit Mani Upadhyaya, chief of Thankot depot of the NOC.
According to him, the depot sold 1.1 million liters of petrol and 1.25 million liters of diesel on Wednesday. Similarly, a total of 52 bullets of liquefied petroleum gas were imported on Wednesday.