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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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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)