Students protest over gas hikes
Traffic grinds to halt in capital after petrol prices rise
An effigy of Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai burns under the clock tower in Kathmandu
Students protested against gas hikes in Kathmandu yesterday, burning an effigy of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and stopping morning rush hour traffic. The Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) raised the price of petroleum products on Monday by 5 rupees (US$.06) per liter of petrol, 4 rupees per liter of diesel and kerosene, and 55 rupees per liter of LPG, used for cooking and large transport vehicles. The price of aviation fuel for domestic airlines also rose by 11 rupees per liter. The protests will continue until the government addresses students’ demands to repeal the price hike, said K. Prasad Lamichhane, head of the Nepal Students Organization. “The majority of people in Kathmandu earn less than 9,000 rupees a month [US$100] and the price of everything has suddenly risen,” said Ganesh Parajuli, a teacher in Kathmandu. He said the price hike comes as people are trying to save money for Dashain, Nepal's main Hindu festival which occurs next month. The NOC said it raised the price of gasoline following a directive from the Indian Oil Corporation, the NOC’s only supplier, after prices were raised in India. The NOC has had huge losses in the past as it failed to comply with global market prices, it said. The protests come during a period of intense political turmoil in Nepal. A constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution was dissolved in May, and there has been increasing pressure on the prime minister to resign after his call for November elections failed.