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No blockade of cargo vehicles to Nepal: Vikas Swarup


New Delhi:  India on Thursday reiterated that it was not imposing any blockade on commercial vehicles carrying cargo to Nepal in the wake of rising political tensions in the Himalayan nation after the adoption of the new constitution.

“Let me once again categorically state that there is no blockade by India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a media briefing.

“A number of cargo commercial vehicles are moving daily to Nepal. On October 30, 748 vehicles moved, 627 on October 31, 473 on November 1, 308 on November 2, and 271 on November 3,” he said.

Nepal’s new constitution has evoked strong resentment from the southern Nepali Terai region where the Madhesi political parties as also the indigenous groups have launched a violent protest alleging that their interests have been again ignored.

Hours after a youth from Bihar was killed in firing by Nepal police during protests in Birgunj city close to the Indian border on Monday, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, at a public function in Kathmandu, accused India of “propping up” the Madhes-based political parties to impose blockades at major customs points along the 1,751-km open border between the two neighbors.

On Thursday, Swarup said that as of Wednesday afternoon, the number of vehicles awaiting at six out of 10 trading points capable of handling commercial cargo was 6,906.

“Out of these, 4,800 were at Raxaul (in Bihar) alone and 1,500 at Sonauli (in Uttar Pradesh),” he said.

“So you can see, we are making every effort to send as much supplies as possible to Nepal. But the problem is that the main trading point which handles 70-80 percent of commercial traffic between India and Nepal, Raxaul-Birgunj, continues to remain blocked.”

To a question as to whether India was doing anything to allay the resentment and fears among the people of Kathmandu valley over the stoppage of supplies, Swarup said the problem in Nepal was a political problem.

“It has to have a political solution. That is what we have been urging Nepal consistently from day one and that is what we will continue to urge Nepal. That there is a particular problem in Nepal caused by disaffection among a section of the Nepali population,” the spokesperson said.

“The sooner the Nepali leadership reaches out to that particular section and reaches some kind of an accommodation the sooner our supplies will resume which has been caused entirely by the blockade existing on the Nepalese side of the border.”


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Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)