Madhesis to allow passage of drugs to Nepal, India looks for new routes

Kathmandu: As Nepal began to reel under a severe shortage of essential drugs following a two-month-old blockading of the southern border with India, the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha on Thursday decided to facilitate safe passage of medicines to Kathmandu. A compassionate India also sought alternative routes -- even by air -- to supply essential drugs.

Nepal's hospitals and private medical distributors reported running short of drugs due to the so far two-month-old violent protests along the Nepal-India border that have led to blockading of supplies of essential goods, drugs and fuel.

A meeting of the Morcha in Kathmandu on Thursday decided to allow cargo trucks carrying medicines, oxygen cylinders and health-related equipment to enter Nepal from the eastern Nepali Biratnagar border during the day-time.

In New Delhi, at a regular press briefing, India's external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India will facilitate the safe passage of essential drugs through re-routing or providing air facilities.

The major trade entry point along the Nepal-India border at Raxaul-Birgunj has been severely hit since the past two months.

Vehicles carrying drugs and which are now on the Indian side of the border in Raxaul-Birgunj will be re-routed through other Nepal-India entry points and India will facilitate it, said Swarup.

He urged the Nepali leadership to resolve the political issues to enable resumption of supply of goods and essential commodities across the border.

Political parties and indigenous groups based in Nepal's Terai region are protesting the country's new constitution, promulgated on September 20, which, they claim, fails to address their long-standing grievances.

The new federal republican charter discriminates against the Teraian groups in the matter of delineation of provinces and other significant issues, the protestors aver.

The meeting of the Morcha took the decision regarding transportation of medicines on humanitarian grounds, keeping in mind the medical treatment of patients, said a statement issued after the meeting.

The group also decided to allow schools and colleges to run in the morning.

The front said it will intensify its agitation as the government and the political parties have not show seriousness to address through talks the demands of the Madhesis, Tharus, Muslims and Dalits, among other marginalised communities of the Nepali Terai region.

"We will continue our highway-obstruction programme from November 21 and take out torch-rallies in major towns," read the statement.

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