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Nepalese Are Finding the Humor in Their Country's Gas Shortage

Image by Flickr user Simonsimages.

A Yak carrying LPG cylinders in Namche Bazar in Eastern Nepal. By Flickr user Simonsimages. CC BY 2.0

The red-coloured liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders used for cooking in Nepal have suddenly become objects of desire in the capital Kathmandu and other major cities thanks to a shortage.

The shortage of LPG started in December 2014 and worsened in January 2015. Despite several steps taken by the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to boost the supply of LPG, consumers are still not able to get the cooking gas easily and the price has skyrocketed on the black market. 

Firewood is the predominant energy carrier in Nepali households, counting for more than 70 percent of consumption, followed by LPG, which is gaining popularity. Besides cooking, LPG is also used for heating as it is cheaper than electricity. 

The NOC sells the cylinders through dealers, but to tackle black marketeers it has even began selling the cylinders directly at stipulated price from special outlets in Kathmandu Valley. However, the shortage has persisted with no respite for consumers. Gas traders and bottling companies are blaming the lack of bullets (cylindrical pressure containers) used in importing fuel from India as the primary reason for the shortage.

The government is assuring that adequate import of LPG from India has been arranged. But consumers are reeling after two months of limited LPG supply. Nepali cartoonists and Twitter users are protesting the situation by sharing satirical photos and images online.

Kamal Kumar, a producer of Sajha Sawal programme, tweeted:

Have a look. Getting ready to cut ribbon to distribute gas to the people. The minister’s name will be written in diamond letters in the history.

Hinting at the unending queues to get the cooking gas, Nepali daily Annapurna Post tweeted a cartoon by Basu Kshitiz.

The man in the cartoon says, “Send me a razor too, seems [my] turn won’t come in 3-4 days.”

Looking at the situation, people have taken to innovative forms of protest to pressure the government.

Shanti Nepal uploaded a video to YouTube showing the queue for gas and protests demanding normalisation of the supplies.

Lawmakers have accused the government of turning a deaf ear to the black market sale of cooking gas, saying it's to blame for the current shortage, not the the Indian Oil Corporation.

Responding to the black market accusation, cartoonist Rabindra Manandhar tweeted:

Black marketers hoarded all the gas in the market. Result: Their flatulence swept away consumers.

Due to the gas shortage, walking along the streets with a cooking gas cylinder has become a sort of moment of pride for people.

Sanam Chitrakar, an entrepreneur, tweeted:

The LPG pinch has made it a much coveted item in every kitchen. Portraying this sarcastically, cartoonist Rajesh KC tweeted:

Earlier, nobody would touch a gas cylinder left on the street but due to the scarcity everyone is scared to leave a filled cylinder unattended.

Aakar Anil Ghimire, a marketing technologist with The Cloud Factory, tweeted:

Whatever the situation, Nepalese have been facing the shortage bravely and with patience. The good news is that India is mulling over laying a LPG and gas pipeline to Nepal for the continuous supply of the precious cooking gas.

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