Violent protests in Terai region of Nepal over the last three weeks over demarcation of states in the new constitution have affected India-Nepal border trade.
Petrol and diesel tankers belonging to Indian Oil Corporation and several hundred trucks carrying goods have been stranded in India for days due to the protests.
“We are facing transportation problems due to the protests in Terai. Security forces are being used to escort the trucks coming from India,” said Jib Raj Koirala, an official of Nepal’s ministry of commerce and supplies.
Most of the vehicles are stranded at Raxaul in India's Bihar state due to continued violence across the border at Nepal’s Birganj, the busiest point for border trade between the neighbouring nations.
Koirala mentioned that over 72 petrol, diesel and gas tankers entered Nepal on Wednesday morning and were provided with security escort for their onward journey.
Clashes between protesters unhappy with demarcation of state boundaries and police have claimed 21 lives in mid-western, far-western and Madhes regions of Nepal since August 8. Curfew has been imposed in several districts bordering India and army has been kept on standby.
Despite assurances from Nepal on security for the vehicles, there are reports that many Indian truckers especially those carrying petroleum products are hesitant on entering Nepal while the protests are on. The protests have affected supply of fuel, LPG cylinders, vegetables and other essential products in Kathmandu and other major towns. Officials however say there is adequate fuel, LPG and other products.
Nepal is reliant on India for supply of petroleum products and Indian Oil Corporation is the sole supplier. Last month, an agreement was signed between the two countries to construct a 41-km petrol pipeline connecting both neighbours so that supply is not affected by such protests and other transportation bottlenecks.