India offers to airlift ATF to Nepal

New Delhi: In the wake of China agreeing to supply oil to Nepal, India on Friday offered to airlift Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) to the Himalayan country to beat the ongoing blockade on the border

Reacting guardedly to the agreement between Nepal and China for oil supplies, a “concerned” India said its impact on the future of Indo-Nepal trade has to be seen and hoped that Kathmandu will “sincerely” address the problems which have caused the current situation and that their bilateral relationship will return to its original status

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India was ready to facilitate airlifting of the Aviation turbine fuel, as was done in past, as also re-routing of LPG supplies from those crossings which were not affected

“We have seen reports that Nepal has signed a pact with China. Nepal’s maximum trade is through India. As far as petroleum products are concerned, 70 per cent of petrol is supplied through Raxaul-Birganj point (which is choked by the agitators). How is this (Nepal-China) pact going to help has to be seen,” he said

He was asked about Nepal signing an agreement with China for the supply of petroleum products following the shortages caused by the blockade of land routes from India due to unrest over the new Constitution

He added, “We will certainly be concerned over growth of any anti-India sentiment in Nepal and we hope that the situation which has been caused entirely by problems on the Nepalese side will be resolved at the earliest and our relationship would once again return to its original status.”

Asserting that India has not imposed any blockade, the supply was stopped because Nepal’s one section of the society was not in agreement on provisions of the Constitution and they were not allowing supplies from Indian side

“We have facilitated airlift of aviation turbine fuel earlier and we are ready to facilitate future similar operations and requests. We are also facilitating re-routing of LPG supplies from those crossings which are not affected,” the Spokesperson said

He also hoped that the talks between the government of Nepal and United Democratic Madhesi Front would be fruitful and lead to early political settlement

“We hope that such a political resolution of issues facing Nepal would be institutionalised in a manner that would ensure broad-based ownership and acceptance of the Constitution by all section of the society including those disaffected agitating forces,” the spokesperson said

There has to be an acknowledgment of the problem that exists on Nepalese side and efforts to address them in sincere manner, he added

He also termed Indo-Nepal economic relations as “diverse multifaceted, deep rooted, stand on their own merit and have natural logic” and noted that two-thirds of Nepal trade is with India and bulk of the third country trade passes through India

Nearly half of the foreign investments in Nepal is from India, he said.