Purity check

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in the wake of strong protests by the civil society and media regarding fuel adulteration, the Nepal Oil Corporation (noc), Nepal's only petro-product distributing agency, has agreed to get the quality of its products examined by a foreign body. The decision came in the last week of February. According to Pradip Raj Upadhaya, research and development chief, noc, an Indian agency could be entrusted with the inspection work.

Vehicular pollution on the busy roads of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, is three times higher than the national standard. This despite the national norm for pm10 (suspended particulate matter) being 120 microgrammes per cubic metre, as compared to the us' 50 microgrammes per cubic metre, says Bhusan Tuladhar, executive director of Clean Energy Nepal, a non-profit organisation promoting sustainable energy use and environmental conservation.

Earlier, a team of Nepal's ministry of industry, commerce and supplies had reported 47 per cent kerosene adulteration in the petrol sold at noc's Pokhara depot. But the noc did not take any action in this regard. The noc was established in 1973 and is an independent body. Toran Sharma of Nepal Environmental and Scientific Services (ness), who prepared a report on vehicular fuel quality for the government, feels that the corporation should be put under a central government authority.

Along with the noc, gas stations have also been charged with adulterating petrol. "Both are in the same category,' asserts Sharma. The government did try to rein in gas stations by stopping the sale of kerosene at these outlets. But a four-day strike by gas stations across the country in the last week of February forced it to enter into negotiations with petroleum dealers. For their part, gas station owners claim that the noc is the main culprit.