Update (Aug 20): The government has taken back the decidion to hike petroleum price.
Lucky to be in Nepal? A Chinese tourist whose English name Clover means lucky poses for camera in Tinkune, Kathmandu as she was walking from Bhaktpur to Kathmandu today after traffic was abruptly halted because of sporadic protests against hike in petroleum prices. On the background could be seen tires set ablaze by protestors. A student of Media and communications in Xiamen University of Fujian, China, Clover came Nepal two weeks ago with her parents. She had been to Bhaktapur in the morning to see the Durbar Square when traffic in the city was normal. “When we tried to return after the sightseeing,” she said while walking on a hot day. “Cabs refused to take us back to Kathmandu.” The family is staying in a hotel in Thamel.
19-year-old Clover said they went to “the beautiful city of Pokhara” and Chitwan where she saw several rhinos. “But I couldn’t boat in Pokhara as it was raining,” she said. “It was an interesting day today,” she said about the protest and the experience of walking while crossing several blockades on the road. She also didn’t forget to share the stories of encountering Maoist cadres on way to Kathmandu from Tibet. “They wanted money from us,” she said. “But our driver said that we couldn’t pay. Then they left us.” Clover and her parents will return to mainland China via Tibet on Sunday. Pic by Wagle
Today saw Nepali politics’ one of the naked games of blaming others for unfavorable decisions when Nepali Congress issued a statement saying the government’s decision to hike the price of petroleum products yesterday was against the people. Another member of the ruling Seven Party Alliance, Nepal Worker and Peasants Party has also expressed its unhappiness over the government’s decision to hike the price. CPN UML, second largest partner in the government, is also understood to have blamed the government for the hike. Even the minister who was directly responsible for raising the price, Nepal Sadbhavawana Party (Anandidevi)’s Hrideyesh Tripathi has also reportedly expressed his ignorance about the hike. College students affiliated with CPN UML are on the streets burning tires and vehicles and they are demanding that the must leave the government.
Protest in Pokhara: Students burnt tires in Pokhara protesting the hike in petroleum product price.
The decision, very painful but necessary, was taken yesterday by the government and now, after seeing the protest, all sides want to run away from the protest target. Protest has become a daily lifestyle of Nepali people. They hit the streets anytime for any reason. We have seen so many protests and agitations in different sectors in the last several weeks: from tea workers to students of vocational institute CTEVT to part time teachers in the Tribhuvan University. Not to mention sporadic protests after drivers in Kathmandu killed two pedestrians intentionally, first hitting and then running over the body by backing the vehicle, in two separate instances.
In Jadibuti, Koteshwor
From the economic point of view, the hike in the petro price was inevitable because Nepal doesn’t have oil fields and all petro products are imported from international market. The price has risen internationally and that wasn’t adjusted in the previous regime. Only alternative option would be to launch a massive reform within the state monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation that manages the petroleum sales in the country.
Protesters blocked road in Jadibuti, Koteshwor
The hike on petro price has always very much sensitive issue in Nepal because of its political repercussions. This has always been a political issue, especially in the 90s when opposition always looked for a better issue to protest the government. That was a bad tradition that every other party followed while they were in opposition. We have seen the previous governments buckle down because of the protests and reduce the price. It is bound to happen this time too. But this is not an issue to be kept under carpet for long. Decision must be made. And that is going to be a political decision.
Yes, the extreme decision would be to take back yesterday’s decision of raising the price and reduce the price by as much as 50 percent. That means the state has to subsidize on the petroleum products. But would such decision be sustainable? No. Then what is the option? Should we leave this issue to the election of Constituent Assembly saying that CA would decide on this?!!? I would not be kidding to think like that given the current situation in the country. But the must plausible option would be that all parties should come together and collectively decide. If no one wants to hike the price for the shake of politics, okay, cut the defense or even development budget and subsidize on the petroleum products.