Nepal government started imposing restrictions on vehicular movement on Sunday as a blockade of cargo trucks along the border with India has badly hit the supplies of essential commodities, especially fuel.
Nepalese officials said that cars will run on alternate days based on the last digit of their license plate. Trucks carrying supplies from neighbouring India stopped entering Nepal this past week after angry protests following the adoption of a new constitution.
Siva Tripathi, an official at the ministry of supplies, said that Indian security personnel and customs officials barred the trucks from entering Nepal, citing orders from Delhi.
“Transportation has come to a complete halt since Thursday. So we are facing the shortage of some essential items, including petroleum products,” Tripathi said.
However, Indian foreign ministry has denied that there have been restrictions imposed on Indian suppliers and blamed protests inside Nepal for the disrupted movement of oil tankers and trucks loaded with medicine, sugar, salt, food and cooking gas cylinders.
Nepal, a small Himalayan nation, depends heavily on supplies from India.
While many in Nepal have welcomed the new constitution that came into force last week, some ethnic groups object to the boundaries of the seven federal states that were set up. Other protesters want Nepal to be a Hindu state and not secular as the constitution calls for.
The protests have been waning, but violence related to them has killed at least 45 people in recent weeks.
The Indian embassy in Nepal said in a statement that Indian traders and transporters have had difficulty moving within Nepal and fear for their safety. They are afraid their trucks will be looted by protesters if they ply unescorted by security guards.
New Delhi says that the aspirations of the disgruntled groups from the southern plains bordering India have not been met, and that violence could spill into India, where a large number of Nepalese nationals work.