UNITED NATIONS: Expressing concern over the obstruction of essential supplies to Nepal, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called on “all sides” to lift the blockade at the Indo-Nepal border immediately invoking the landlocked country’s right of free transit.

“The Secretary-General indeed reiterates his concern over the obstruction of essential supplies on the Nepal-India border. Acute shortages in fuel supplies continue to impede planned deliveries to earthquake-affected villages in Nepal,” Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters yesterday.

He said humanitarian organisations urgently require fuel to maintain operations and deliver food, warm clothing and shelter materials to high altitude areas that will soon be cut off by harsh winter weather.

“The Secretary-General underlines Nepal’s right of free transit, as a landlocked nation as well as for humanitarian reasons, and calls on all sides to lift the obstructions without further delay,” he said.

India yesterday said Nepal’s “internal factors” were responsible for the blockade on the border.

The blockade began after Madhesi community — who have cultural, linguistic and family ties to Indians living across the border — began their protests over Nepal’s Constitution.

They believe the new charter is flawed and discriminatory as it does not represent their interests.

The agitators have been picketing the Nepal-India border near Raxaul, from where 70 per cent of goods are transported to Nepal.

Madhesis, Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region, are protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution. The agitation close to the main trading point near Raxaul has halted supply of essential goods, causing acute shortage of fuel in Nepal.

Over 40 people have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India via the major border trading points has been badly affected.

The agitation by Madhesi groups has paralysed normal life across Nepal while the dearth of medicines has put lives of patients at stake.