New Delhi: India has not blocked transport of essential supplies to Nepal where the movement of goods from India has been stopped ever since protests broke out after a new constitution was adopted, the government reiterated on Thursday.
"There has been no blockade by India whatsoever," Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, said in his weekly media briefing.
"In fact, I think this question should really be put to the government of Nepal and not to the government of India," he said.
Swarup's response came after being pointed out that Nepal's prime minister has again said that India should not block movement of cargo to the Himalayan nation.
He said the issues facing Nepal were political in nature and internal to Nepal.
"The Nepalese leadership has to resolve them through dialogue with the agitating parties," the spokesperson said.
"All we can add is if the political challenges facing Nepal are addressed, we can hope it would assuage the concerns the protesters have leading to a return to peace and normalcy in the affected areas of the Terai, including the border crossings being currently occupied by the Nepalese protesters and thereby improve the supply situation in the country."
He said the major crossing of Raxaul-Birgunj which handles two-thirds of the trade between India and Nepal continued to remain closed on the Nepal side of the border.
"Out of the 10 border crossings capable of handling commercial cargo, seven, including the major ones of Sonauli and Panitanki, have been operational," Swarup said.
According to him, between 400 and 800 cargo trucks have been passing daily over the last four days through the India-Nepal border.
"Petrol, oil, lubricants - POL supplies - continue to move to the extent possible," the spokesperson said.
As of Wednesday evening, nearly 6,000 trucks were waiting to cross into Nepal at various border crossings, including 4,700 in Raxaul alone, he added.
Referring to reports of shortage of medicines in the Himalayan nation, Swarup said that India has already conveyed to the Nepal government that, like the re-routing of the POL trucks, "we are ready to facilitate re-routing of vehicles carrying medicines".
"We are also ready to facilitate airlift. Nepalese importers of medicines are also advised to use those border crossings where there are no protests and disruptions in supplies," he said.