Srinagar: Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) department has written to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to ensure two-month stock availability of LPG in Kashmir to avoid any shortage of it in case of closure of the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
A copy of the letter shared on social media has baffled people in Kashmir as it is mid-summer and the highway is not expected to be disrupted by weather anytime soon.
Marked as “matter most urgent”, the letter refers to a meeting convened by Advisor Farooq Khan, who oversees FSC&A, on June 23 in which he passed directions “to ensure sufficient stocks of LPG in the valley as the supply of the same gets affected due to closure of the National Highway on account of frequent landslides.”
“In this backdrop, you are requested to take up this matter with all the Oil Marketing Companies (IOCL/HPCL/BPCL) for building up of adequate stocks of LPG which can last upto two months both at bottling plants as well as godowns of LPG distributors at district level…,” reads the letter dated Saturday, June 27.
Director FCS&CA Kashmir, Bashir Ahmad Khan, whose office sent the letter, told The Kashmir Monitor that it was a “routine matter”.
“We keep on writing to them (IOCL) routinely. For example right now we have a 25-day stock, so we remind them (IOCL) often to ensure sufficient stocks,” he said.
Asked that such communiques were usually seen in winters, when the highway is disrupted due to weather, Khan said that “national highway is not behaving properly for the last two, three years.”
“The highway closes even if it rains a bit, or if there are landslides, so we have written to them to ensure the stocks don’t run out,” he said.
The letter has got people questioning it on social media as last summer too, the J&K government had come up with such communiques about stocking essential supplies right before the abrogation of Article 370 and division of the erstwhile state in two union territories.
In those orders too, the administration had initially reasoned ‘frequent highway closures’. Besides calling for stockpiling of essentials, the government right before August 5 episode had ordered tourists and non-locals to leave Kashmir while hastily wrapping up Amarnath Yatra citing security reasons.
Eventually, it was realised that the unusual communiques were preparations ahead of the final showdown that happened on August 5.
These days, Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing issuance of thousands of domicile certificates and frequent gunfights between militants and government forces. At the same time, Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in an unprecedented faceoff in Ladakh in which at least 20 Indian Army soldiers were killed earlier this month.
Questioning the Saturday’s letter, senior journalist Muzamil Jaleel posted on Facebook: “Has the weather in cold desert Ladakh suddenly started to threaten to cause landslides during peak summer months along this important road? Or is it, as our weather man would generally claim, the alleged western disturbances may trigger a rockfall on this highway and disrupt the traffic. There were similar emergencies during the last week of July last year too when sudden threat led to evacuation of almost every non local tourist/worker etc from the valley (sic).”
A social media user commenting on the fresh communique wrote: “Three divisions of army deployed in Ladakh instead of one speaks everything. Any war needs atleast six months’ time for preparedness to defend if not to win. India can’t take chances (sic).”