As things stand now, there is no escaping from the perennial shortages of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for the hapless consumers. For one reason or the other, scarcity of this commodity is very common place. This has given rise to outcry from the public who are at the mercy of some unscrupulous entrepreneurs of LPG who are making a tidy sum from dealing with the commodity. It looks like now the strike by the LP Gas Industry Association Nepal, which has stopped dealing in the product from August 7, has already led to the scarcity of LPG gas cylinders. This facilitates some dealers to sell LPG gas in the black market at highly inflated price as they make hay while the sun shines. What appears to be the bone of contention is that the bottlers oppose the plan of the government to introduce different coloured cylinders for domestic and industrial use. Apparently, the cylinders sold to the industries would be more expensive than the ones sold for domestic use. Clearly, the provision for different coloured cylinders would prevent the unscrupulous traders from making extra money on the sly, because the cylinders for industrial and domestic use could easily be identified.
By all accounts, the strike called by the LP Gas Industry Association Nepal is a breach of the Consumer Protection Act and Black Marketing Act. Given the predicament of the consumers with all signs that the strike will be a protracted one with little sign of the stakeholders yielding easily, the government ought to utilize government corporations so that the supply of gas is smooth. Since, LPG gas is an essential commodity the scarcity of which would affect ordinary life, it should be made easily available at a reasonable price, which would be fair. But, going by the present developments, it appears to be the jockeying by the gas dealers to raise their commission again. Incidentally, their share has been raised numerous times, and they want it further increased, which is quite unfair.
What should be pointed out here is that the gas dealers are having an easy time as in the petroleum business the Nepal Oil Corporation bears all the loss while the entrepreneurs earn handsome commissions. Now, the question is as to whether the government should take legal action against the erring gas dealers. The other option would be to keep on holding negotiations. But, for how long can the negotiations keep on going, because the consumers are already being hard-hit by the scarcity of LPG cylinders in the market? Furthermore, this whole affair looks fishy and we cannot rule out the ulterior motives of ministry officials on looking at the delay in the issuing of the Essential Service Act on the trade of LPG. Ultimately, the delay in reaching an agreement means that the consumers would be suffering for it appears that the government is indifferent, and, at the same time, the gas dealers are commission-oriented lacking the service motive which should be the goal of all businesses. Panic seems to have gripped with the consumers running from pillar to post to secure LPG cylinders giving rise to the dreadful phenomena of hoarding and profiteering.
Thinking of elders
It may come like sweet music to the elderly that Patan Hospital, in coordination with the Population Division of the Ministry of Health and Population, is doing the needful so that it would be operating a geriatric ward after the festival of Dashain. Similarly, the ministry is also planning for such centres at the Kirtipur-based National Ayurvedic Training and Research Centre and Bharatpur Hospital. Though long overdue, such geriatric centres will be of great help for the elderly patients for whom the normal hospital setting is not elderly-friendly in terms of various facilities and infrastructure.
There is no denying that the elderly have their
own specific ailments and problems which can only be understood through specialised geriatric wards. The need for such wards has grown tremendously
in recent years with the life expectancy growing
because of the changes in diet as well as medical
intervention of a host of diseases. The ageing
population have their own set of problems which only the geriatric specialists can understand,
diagnose and treat.