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Fuel Price Hike Triggers Violent Protests In Nepal

y NRS 15 or nearly 25 percent, diesel NRS 59, an increase of 11 percent. The kerosene will now cost NRS 59, which is an increase by 23 percent. The cooking gas will be priced NRS 1,000 a cylinder, dearer by NRS 100.

Aviation fuel has been hiked to NRS 76 from NRS 55, leading to fears of escalation in domestic flight fares.

An IOC team was in Kathmandu earlier this month to thrash out with NOC officials a new schedule for payment of dues but the talks remained deadlocked with NOC asking for a lower interest rate on the unpaid amount and the IOC expressing its inability to do so on the ground that it too has to pay interest to Indian banks.

The resulting pressure as well as continuous persuasion by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund finally made the government give in, despite fears of public protests by student organisations, consumers and even its own coalition partners.

With the hike, the NOC's losses would now come down to NRS 210 million.

With the cabinet authorising its ministry of industry, commerce and supplies last week to take an appropriate decision, fuel sellers, anticipating a price hike, began hoarding their stocks, creating an artificial crisis.

There have been long queues at petrol stations while shops selling cooking gas have been pleading short supply. The hikes come on the eve of a succession of Nepali festivals, starting with Teej, the festival of women Sunday.

Fuel price hikes have always been a contentious issue in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. About three years ago, a similar hike resulted in widespread student unrest and the death of a student leader in police firing. The incident forced at least two ministers to quit.

There were indications the protests would snowball with one member of the seven-party government flaying the hike.

The Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, that is supporting the Koirala government
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