Highway closure: Petrol stocks only for 7 days in Kashmir

Petrol stocks in Kashmir can last only for seven more days due to closure of Srinagar-Jammu Highway for nearly a week now.

Kashmir is heavily dependent on outside supplies and the only major surface road linking it with rest of the country is Srinagar-Jammu Highway which facilitates import of essential items to the landlocked region. However, heavy snowfall during last week led to closure of highway as a consequence of which no fresh supplies have reached to Kashmir.

A senior government official said that oil marketing companies lack facilities to stock fuel sufficiently to meet the demand for more than a month. “Last week the Divisional Commissioner issued an order of rationing of fuel because of heavy snowfall which led to closure of the highway,” he said.

While talking to Greater Kashmir, Director Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Bashir Ahmad said there is no need to panic. “We have enough stock available and hopefully the road will reopen by then (before stocks get exhausted).”

He said that the stock of petrol is available for seven days. “We have rice stocks for two months, wheat for one month, LPG and diesel supply for 14 days.”

However, experts said, in Kashmir successive governments have consistently overlooked the need to augment storage capacity for essential commodities.

Apart from the closure of the highway, lack of adequate storage for ration, gas, petrol, etc, in Kashmir compounds the problem, experts said.

A senior official said that proposals to augment infrastructural capacities including storage for petrol and diesel, commissioning of new bottling plants have not been taken up with oil marketing companies, resulting in shortage of supplies when the road remains closed for days.

He said that for Ladakh region, every year from June onwards petroleum products and cooking gas are transported to ensure its availability throughout the year, but for Kashmir valley there is no contingency plan.

According to a senior executive of a petroleum company, Kashmir has a storage capacity for fuel for only 21 days which is not sufficient for the heavily dependent valley.

Similarly, for cooking gas, there is only one bottling and refilling plant managed by Hindustan Petroleum Company Limited.

Bharat Petroleum Company Limited is getting refill done through a private party with a very limited capacity, while the Indian Oil Company Limited gets supplies from outside.