Economic blockade in Nepal

Nepal is a land-locked country with a complex topography.  The Himalayan region in the Northern border makes it hard for Nepal to build a good transportation system linking with China. India borders Nepal in three directions; namely East, West and South. While there is a provision of visa requirement for Nepalese to go to China, no such provisions are required for the people of Nepal and India to cross the border. Therefore, Nepal has no choice but to depend heavily upon India to meet most of the daily needs.

In April-May 2015, Nepal suffered a deadly devastation as the result of a massive earthquake. It is estimated that more than $7 billion will be required for the reconstruction purpose. Enlisted as one of the least developed countries, allocating such a huge sum of money for reconstruction remains a challenge for Nepal. Lack of technical capacity, infrastructure, human resources etc. delay the process. Despite these challenges, Nepal is continuously struggling to march ahead towards the path of recovery.

Just four months after such an upheaval, what has aggravated the plight of Nepalese people is the continuous economic blockade imposed by India starting September this year. The cumulative loss from the blockade has exceeded the amount of money allocated by Nepal for post-disaster reconstruction.

Nepal amended its new constitution in September 2015 for the first time after it turned into a federal democratic republic since 2008. With the political reforms in the country, federalism had stood as a big issue. While there are so many factors that prevent new federalism structure from its implementation, one of the major one has been the dissatisfaction shown by a greater fraction of people residing in the Southern belt.

People in the south (commonly known as Madhesi) claim that they have not been able to enjoy equal rights as other Nepalese. However, it should be acknowledged that new constitution has given a lot of priority rights to represent these people at the core of the national politics. Turning their dissatisfaction into protests, people in South demand an ethnic divide of the country.

Making the unrest in southern plain a cause, India has stopped supplying the daily necessities into Nepal for the last two months disregarding various bilateral, regional and international agreements. This has led to a severe humanitarian crisis in Nepal at the moment. There is shortage of fuel, food and critical medical supplies throughout the country. According to UNICEF, the disruption of vital life services has put more than three million infants at risk of death or disease. More than 1.6 million children have been deprived of schooling in the due course. Due to the lack of gas supplies, people are compelled to use firewood to cook food at the moment. Peoples rising dependence on firewood has increased indoor pollution. Fuel crisis has triggered black-marketing.

Therefore, it is very necessary for us to give a due consideration to this crisis and spread the message to the international community to help 28 million people of Nepal.