Frequent highway closures hit LPG supplies in Kashmir

Except for the Hindustan Petroleum, which has a bottling plant in Kashmir, the oil marketing companies are mostly dependent on outside supplies they cannot stock unbottled LPG in the valley for the long winters.

SAQIB MALIK
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 14 2018 10:12PM | Updated Date: Nov 14 2018 10:12PM
Frequent highway closures hit LPG supplies in KashmirFile Photo

Frequent Srinagar-Jammu Highway closures has hit the cooking gas supply to Kashmir creating shortage like situation across the valley. 

Consumers from across the valley districts have been calling Greater Kashmir that informing that they are not able to purchase LPG cylinders on time as oil marketing companies have failed to make early winter stocks despite knowing fragility of the highway and the unpredictable weather conditions of Kashmir.  

Except for the Hindustan Petroleum, which has a bottling plant in Kashmir, the oil marketing companies are mostly dependent on outside supplies they cannot stock unbottled  LPG in the valley for the long winters. 

“We are at the receiving end suffering a major shortage of cooking gas cylinders. I have been waiting for a refill for the last two weeks,” said a Raj Bagh-based consumer. Similarly, cooking gas customers from Pulwama, Baramulla, Shopian, Kupwara, Bandipora and Ganderbal have also complained of shortage of LPG cylinders. 

A cooking gas dealer, wishing anonymity accused the state government and oil marketing companies of “misleading” consumers about presence of abundant stocks of LPG in Kashmir. “I have not received any fresh stock of LPG for last several days since the OMC does not have refilling plant here and its stocks have been stranded on the highway," the dealer said. 

"Prior to winter, oil marketing companies had promised government of keeping buffer stocks of filled cylinders but they have failed to do so,” he added. 

He said in Leh and Kargil 80,000 cylinders are lying dumped, besides a dedicated bottling plant making sufficient stock for the harsh winters there but similar arrangements are lacking in the valley.   

When contacted, an oil marketing company official said with resumption of traffic on Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the supply of cylinders is being gradually restored across Kashmir. 

“In such situations, Hindustan Petroleum lends support from its Galander bottling plant near Pampore to IOC and BPCL but due to highway closure and a subsequent massive demand of its own consumers HP can provide only a limited support to us. Apart from the supplies we have received from outside since last two to three days, we have been receiving few truckloads of cylinders after every few days from HP as well so that we can cater to the huge demand,” the official said.  

Cooking gas dealers told Greater Kashmir that there is a lot of “panic buying” of cooking gas cylinders in the retail market due to arrival of early winter which is causing a mismatch in the demand and supply of LPG cylinders.

“Earlier consumers used to stock up LPG cylinders in summers as prices of LPG were quite affordable then. Now that an LPG cylinder costs more than Rs 1000 consumers have been buying cautiously. But since winter has arrived all of a sudden, people have panicked about availability of cooking gas,” said another oil marketing company official. 

During season’s first snowfall on November 3, various departments and government agencies connected with the delivery of essential services such as food grains and petroleum products were found missing on the ground. 

However, prior to the latest snow forecast, Chief Secretary BVR Subramanyam had taken stock of availability and stocking of ration and petroleum products such as cooking gas in Kashmir division including snowbound remote areas like Gurez. The shortage in supply of LPG is despite Chief Secretary having directed then director of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, Kashmir to ensure supply of food grains and petroleum products to the consumers during the winter months. For this purpose, the CAPD was told to remain in constant touch with the oil companies so that there is no shortage of cooking gas and petroleum products.

When contacted, director CAPD Muhammad QasimWani said he was ensuring that there is enough supply of LPG to the consumers. “Soon after joining the department yesterday, I have taken a stock of the situation of LPG supply. We are ensuring that there is no shortage of cooking gas. Whatever panic is there in the market is because people are stocking up cylinders in large quantity,” Wani said.

The inclement weather has affected movement of goods trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu highway causing less supply of goods to the valley. CAPD has failed to keep a check on exorbitant pricing of essential commodities. 

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