Monday 28th Sept, 2015, Kuensel issue had regional news on refuelling difficulties for air planes flying in and out of Kathmandu, Nepal. Due to aviation fuel supply cuts from India, Nepal is putting in place measures to curtail fuel consumption without reducing flights. At the same time the leaders seem to be working out arrangements to import fuel from China.
This time around, like Bhutan, it is a busy tourist season and also festival time in Nepal. So not just tourists but many Nepalese working away will be flying in to join their home families. Pressure on aviation fuel and other products usually imported from India will be huge. Tourism is the backbone of Nepalese economy.
Flying in fuel from China would be very expensive. For the immediate need, it is possible China may provide subsidy to reduce cost but in the long term. its going to be a high political price. But Nepal does not have a better alternative.
Nepal and Bhutan economies are very dependent on India because of geographical advantages. Imports from India and through India are far cheaper and faster. But when it comes to national sovereignty and national Constitution structure, what compromises could Nepal once known as Gurkha Kingdom make for India?
Actually it would be more economic for Nepal to import fuel from Bangladesh than China because shipping port of Bangladesh is much nearer so air freight distance is much shorter. But flights from Bangladesh have to use Indian sky and maybe that's not permitted ( unless being members of WTO guarantees such trade air routes). So import has to be from and through China. As expensive as it is, Nepal can import by air because it has adequate airport facility to receive large planes.
But economy is not the only national concern for Nepalese leaders. There could be ethnic related disturbances that can be instigated to escalate. Bhutan had similar experiences.
What is happening with India and Nepal equation now is bleak news for the Himalayan region and possibly for whole of South Asia. It is bound to have repercussions on Bhutan, too. And as I had said earlier in my recent article " Border sealing and fuel supply blockade ". this present India and Nepal tussle could very well reshape the Himalayan political equation drastically. And small land locked two countries would suffer. SAARC could disintegrate though this regional body could never make much positive impact till now. So it will not be missed so much. The regional body has no clout no voice without Indian approval.
I just hope that upon return of Mr. Modi to India from his visit to America, he will take the time to review the external policies of India. Surely if he wills it, his political experts can find a palatable solution. A win for Indian diplomacy without tampering with basic foundation of the dignity of the Nepalese people. I look forward to good and accommodative
leadership demonstration from the Indian Prime Minister.