LPG Crisis: JK Sends SOS To Delhi

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KEA Warns Govt Of Street Protests If Issue Not Addressed

Srinagar – Faced with growing resentment and renewed threat of street protests over its failure to tide over the raging LPG crisis, the National Conference-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to knock at the central doors for an early relief. Its minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution is scheduled to meet the union Petroleum minister, Veerappa Moiley, on Wednesday to seek a raise in subsidized LPG cap in view of the peculiar geo-climatic conditions in the state.

According to reports, the chief minister, Omar Abdullah’s pleas with oil companies and their local distributors to ensure hassle-free availability of cooking gas to the consumers have fallen on deaf ears although sufficient stocks are believed to be available with them. Long queues of consumers are seen outside the retail outlets.

“Not only that the subsidized cylinders are not made availability to the consumers, even the non-subsidized ones too are in short supply which has triggered black-marketing in the most sought-after essential commodity. Authorities have failed to check hoarding and profiteering,” a group of consumers alleged.

Taking a serious view of the government’s inability to address the crisis effectively, the civil society has put it on notice. The Kashmir Economic Alliance has warned of street protests if the government did not resolve the problem with a sense of urgency.

“With a drastic power curtailment program in force across the valley, the situation is likely to take a turn for the worse if the LPG crisis is not solved immediately. In the event of its failure to do so, we will issue a program of protests to force the government to address it early,” the KEA general-secretary, Siraj Ahmad, told KNS, adding that a day’s general strike had already been observed to jolt the government out of its slumber.

Meanwhile, the Pradesh Congress president, Saif-ud-din Soz, who has sent a letter to the prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, urging him an early raise in the subsidized LPG cap for Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to meet the Petroleum minister, Moily, tomorrow.

“I will meet Moily tomorrow and have already written to the prime minister, who has told me that the issue is under consideration of the GoI”, Soz told KNS, adding that if the gas crisis in the state was not addressed, it would put the forests in danger. “If the crisis is not resolved, the forests are in danger as people might turn to them for getting fuel. Union government must take measures for redressing the problem,” he added.

Speaking at the food ministers’ conference in New Delhi, the CAPD minister, Qamar Ali Akhoon, demanded release of ration to the state on the basis of 2011 census.

“Being a border state, the ration provided on the basis of 2001 census does not meet the requirement of Jammu and Kashmir as its population has increased. He pleaded release of funds for digitization of CAPD records. Regarding supply of ration for centrally-sponsored schemes, Akhoon pleaded for continuing last year’s quota for this year also.

In a related development, Peoples Democratic Party legislator from Lolab, Advocate Abdul Haq, Tuesday asked the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, and finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, to explain their positions on LPG issue, saying the latter, in his budget speech, had made huge claims about income and achievements.

“During his budget speech, Rather had said Rs 4,800 crore income tax was received against targeted Rs 4183 crore”, he said Khan, adding that if the claims were true why can’t the government utilize the extra money on LPG subsidy.  (KNS)

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