Civil Society Up In Arms Over LPG Crisis

‘Raise Subsidized Cap By 6 More Cylinders, Ease Documentation’

Srinagar – Accusing the National Conference-led coalition of being insensitive and indifferent towards people’s hardships, Kashmir’s civil society has urged the government to shoulder the responsibility of six more subsidized LPG cylinders and to ease the documentation procedure to enable availability of the most sought-after commodity.

At a hurriedly called meeting here this evening, the Civil Society of Kashmir comprising industrialists and traders expressed serious concern over the LPG crisis accusing the government of total failure to back the people when they need its support the most. It is likely to announce its future strategy at a press conference on Sunday.

Terming cooking gas supply and its documentation process as a grave crisis, noted industrialist and member of the Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies, Shakeel Qalander, said that time and again the government forced the people to take to streets to vent their mundane and day-to-day problems. “After initial dithering on the basic amenities, the government subjects the people to hardships forcing them to stage protests and eventually, as eyewash, announces some symbolic sops in the nature of some favor,” he said, accusing the government of insensitivity and nonchalance in addressing the people’s problems.

Qalander said the KCSDS was watching the deteriorating situation for the past one month in the hope the government would announce some relief to the people. Contrary to expectations, however, it washed its hands off the issue. Instead of demonstrating some guts and coming to people’s rescue, he said, the state government “chose to surrender over cylinder” dismaying the civil society, industrialists, traders and, above all, the common people.   

Talking to reporters, former president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Dr Mubeen Shah, said people’s hardships were bound to aggravate during the ensuing winter while the government was not serious in addressing the LPG crisis, power shortage and other problems.

“People are facing hardships in respect of cooking gas, power supply, food and other day-to-day needs and even then the state government was indifferent,” he said, adding the civil society would not watch the situation as a mute spectator. He said the government would have to take steps to provide immediate relief to the people.

The president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdul Hameed Punjabi, warned of extremely difficult times for the people of Kashmir in days ahead. “On the one hand, the government enforces harsh power curtailment and on the other it has pushed gas availability beyond common man’s reach,” he said, adding the timeframe for registration of gas connections was “ridiculous” as it would nearly impossible for all the people to keep the deadline.

Demanding increase in the LPG cap, Punjabi said the state government should subsidize six more cylinders on its own in view of the harsh climatic conditions of the state unlike Delhi or any other state.

Terming the cut in subsidized LPG cylinders and the new registration process as “anti-people,”

Kashmir Traders United Front chairman, Muhammad Sadiq Baqqal, the recent decision on cooking gas after the discriminatory load curtailment was like “declaration of war” against Kashmiris. “Pushing the people into one after another crisis, the government is creating problems for the valley’s industrialists and traders,” he said.

The Kashmir Economic Alliance chairman, Muhammad Yasin Khan, said he had brought the LPG crisis to the notice of the chief minister’s principal secretary, B B Vyas, who had assured him to take it up with the chief minister. Urging relaxation of the procedure for obtaining new gas connections, he said, setting a deadline for the purpose was “ridiculous.” (KNS)

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