Centre's decision to reduce the monthly kerosene quota to the Valley is drawing widespread flak. From consumer to dealer, everyone is angry with the decision where the Valley will be provided with a monthly quota of 18.84 lakh litres only.
"Despite knowing the reality that people here are still reeling under the recent flood disaster, I wonder if the Centre is really trying to help the Kashmiris, or they are just playing gimmicks with us," says Mohammad Sultan, a gardener.
Opposing the decision, the kerosene dealers in Kashmir are threatening to stage massive protests if the decision is not taken back.
"In other states, the Centre did reduce the allotment by around 1-2%, however, in Kashmir, the kerosene
allotment is reduced by more than 33%. This is unacceptable," says chairman of coordination committee kerosene oil, Abdul Rashid Pandit.
According to Pandit, a 16-member delegation comprising many Valley dealers has gone to Delhi to meet the concerned people there to make them aware with the situation in Kashmir.
As per the federal petroleum ministry order issued on New Year's eve, each ration card holder would get an average 3 litres of kerosene per month during winters in comparison to earlier quota of 4.48 litres per month.
It will be reduced to one litre per card holder during summers. As per Pandit, more than 3,000 people are associated with kerosene business.
"Unlike government employees we don't have a permanent salary. We earn on commission basis by selling kerosene. However, with the quota getting reduced means our income gets badly hit," said, a kerosene dealer, Ghulam Mohammad Mir.
Describing the order "illogical", president Kashmir Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shakeel Qalander said, "The decision reveals the insensitivity of the Government of India towards the people in Valley."
Qalander said that it is "unfortunate" that before taking such "irrational and illogical" decision, the authorities did not assess the situation of people post-flood and harsh winter.
"There are still people in the far-flung areas, who rely on kerosene for cooking, and lighting purposes. Therefore, it was important for the Centre to keep them in mind before taking such a rash decision," Qalander said.
According to an official at the consumer affairs and public distribution department, Kashmir, the state is still getting its kerosene quota as per 1990-91 census.
"We are still getting kerosene as per 1990-91 census. Even though we have often written to the Centre to review it, there has been no response till date," the official said.