Govt order on stocking of LPG cylinders in Kashmir raises public fears

Amid heightened tension between India and China at Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, a communiqué asking oil marketing companies to stock LPG cylinders in Kashmir Valley for two months has created anxiety among people here.

The communiqué by Director Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs to the Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Jammu requesting it to ensure sufficient stocks of LPG in the Valley, has raised apprehensions among the people as they say “prior to abrogation of Article 370 last summer similar types of communications ordering stocking of supplies were doing rounds.”

Marked as “matter most urgent”, the letter refers to a meeting convened by Advisor Farooq Khan, who oversees FCS&CA, on June 23 in which he passed directions “to ensure sufficient stocks of LPG in the valley as the supply of the same gets affected due to closure of the National Highway on account of frequent landslides.”

“In this backdrop, you are requested to take up this matter with all the Oil Marketing Companies (IOCL/HPCL/BPCL) for building up of adequate stocks of LPG which can last up to two months both at bottling plants as well as godowns of LPG distributors at district level…,” reads the letter dated Saturday, June 27.

The official communiqué along with another communication by the SSP Ganderbal to DC Ganderbal seeking availability of 16 educational institutions in the district to accommodate the “incoming additional CAPF Coys during the period of Amarnath Yatra 2020” has come in public domain at a time when a tense standoff in eastern Ladakh between India and China continues at least at four locations, including Pangong Tso.

Director FS&CA, Bashir Ahmad Khan while speaking to Greater Kashmir said “It is unfortunate that a simple communication is being blown out of proportion. It is a routine matter, we keep on intimating OMCs about the supply position and asking them to keep buffer stock in Kashmir due to the fact that our national highway is undergoing repairs and is highly prone to weather vagaries.”

“We have three OMCs operating in Kashmir, HPCL has a bottling plant with a capacity of 2 to 2.5 lakh LPG cylinder production per month, BPCL has around 50 thousand and IOCL is dependent on outside supplies.

“Our monthly demand of LPG is estimated at 4.5 lakh gas cylinders out of which we have stock of 3.60 lakh cooking gas cylinders which can last for 24 days. In view of this situation I had written to OMCs to keep buffer stock in Kashmir as the expansion work on the highway is going on.”

Meanwhile, these communiqués drew attention of the social media users who started to compare it with the situation that prevailed before August 2019.

“Government orders are creating panic in Kashmir & unfortunately after all the lies & false assurances last year even if/when the government explains these orders hardly any of us will take the assurances at face value. That said they still need to explain these orders (sic),” former Chief Minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah tweeted.

Another social media user wrote “once bitten twice shy, I get in panic mode when I see this barrage of orders ordering stocking of supplies or evacuation of buildings post August.”