Resolve LPG Crisis Or Face Stir: KCSDS

‘Get Back Power Projects, We Won’t Ask For Subsidies’

Srinagar – Terming the attitude of National Conference-led coalition towards the raging LPG crisis as “highly irresponsible,” Kashmir’s civil society Monday threatened to launch a massive agitation if the government failed to address it within one week. 

“If they fail to raise the cap on subsidized LPG cylinders from six to 12 and relax the norms and procedures for registration of new connections, we will be compelled to take extreme measures, responsibility for which shall squarely lie on the government,” Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Sutudies (KCSDS) said.

Addressing a press conference here, the KCSDS chairperson, Prof Hameeda Nayeem, said unlike other states of the country, consumers in Kashmir had to stand in queues for hours together to get a refill of cooking gas. “People are being treated like beggars while the procedure for registration of gas connection is extremely cumbersome,” she said, adding the government must ensure easy and speedy registration of connections.

Prof Hameeda said the state government had implemented the decision on subsidized LPG cap announced by the government of India without applying its mind. “The government’s expression of inability to provide subsidized gas is irresponsible and unacceptable. We demand the cap of LPG cylinders should be increased from 6 to 12 per year. They need to consider the peculiar climatic conditions and hardships of the hilly state,” she said.

 “The climatic conditions of the state in general and the valley in particular demand that we be provided an alternative source of energy on lesser prices and easier conditions. The attitude and policy of the state government in this regard is irresponsible and unacceptable,” she said, adding the state government should subsidize the LPG if the federal ministry did not provide it.

She said the government could make up the amount needed to subsidize six more cylinders on its own by cutting down wasteful expenditures on the luxurious life style of ministers, mainstream politicians and top bureaucrats. 

She alleged 24 vehicles had been placed at the disposal of one of the coalition ministers while other ministers too were engaged in looting the public exchequer with gay abandon. “The money that can be saved by enforcing austerity steps would be more than enough to pay for the additional subsidy,” she said. 

The group asked the state government not to test the patience of people by pushing them to the wall. “The power situation in the state continues to be bad and the LPG crisis has added to it,” they said.

The KCSDS chief reiterated its demand for return of the power projects held by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation to the state. So far, the state government’s noises on the issue have failed to carry conviction with New Delhi. “It is the state government which has gifted the water resources to the central government and its agency-NHPC,” she said. 

Another KCSDS leader, Dr Mubeen Shah, said it was the government which made the people dependent on subsidies. “Give back our power projects and we will not ask for subsidies,” he said, reiterating the demand to take back the projects from NHPC early. “The government’s mere acknowledgement of the loot by New Delhi and its agents is not enough,” he said, adding it was the state government which had put the state land and water resources into Delhi’s lap. 

Noted industrialist and KCSDS leader, Shakeel Qalander, said if the government failed to address people’s grievances on LPG within a week, the society would be forced to launch a massive agitation.

“People have been left at the mercy of highhanded petroleum companies. It is irrational on the part of these companies to ask for documents now when they have been distributing cooking gas cylinders to the consumers without documents for more than two decades,” he said, adding the procedure for obtaining gas cylinders must be relaxed and home delivery restored forthwith.

The KCSDS chairperson also asked the state government to come clean on the “sensitive issue” of road construction up to the Amarnath cave in light of the Supreme Court directive to look into the infrastructure facilities for the annual yatra. “The government cannot be in the denial mode and needs to clarify its stand,” she said, adding the government had earlier denied any move to develop a road to the cave shrine claiming that the high-powered committee set up by the Apex Court “had not given any direction in this regard.” 

Terming the upcoming skewed bridge as “a disaster in the making,” she said people were opposed to the construction because it would ruin the historical heritage bund. “The government is deaf and dumb and is creating new problems every now and then to keep the people in a perpetual unease,” she said.

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