With winters setting early this year, the Jammu and Kashmir is grappling to stockpile essentials in the Ladakh region, which remains cut off for six months, fearing early closure of the Srinagar-Leh national highway.There is still significant shortfall in stocks required for these months due to floods in the Valley.
The government on Wednesday admitted to facing shortfall in stocks in the Ladakh region, which includes two districts of Kargil and Leh, more than 200 km north-east of Srinagar. According to official figures, the Food Corporation of India has only stocked 85,660 quintals of rice against a target of one lakh quintals.
While sugar stocks stand at 9,000 quintals against 10,500 quintals, only 55,800 quintals of flour against 80,000 quintals has reached Kargil district up to October 9. The Srinagar-Leh national highway closes in November every year to open only after six months. Snowfall disconnects the region from the Valley. There are fears that the highway may be closed early in case of heavy snowfall.
Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather directed several departments to increase the number of trucks to ferry targeted stocks of flour, sugar, rice, kerosene and cooking gas.
Stocks in Kargil district were emptied during the floods in the Valley. Grains, flour and diesel was supplied from Kargil to parts of the city north of river Jhelum, which remained cut off from south Srinagar.
"Though the process of winter stocking is going on satisfactorily but we should not get complacent and complete the targets ahead of the time frame since the Leh-Srinagar highway could get closed anytime due to sudden snow fall," said state minister for finance and Ladakh affairs Abdul Rahim Rather.
He said every effort will be made to keep the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh road open as long as the weather remains favourable. The Valley is witnessing early setting of winters this year with night temperature already fallen to eight degrees Celsius, setting in a cold wave.
"There is need of a missionary spirit to fulfil the full targets assigned to various departments before the national highway gets closed," said Rather.
The government claimed on Wednesday that the process of winter stocking of other commodities including chemical fertilisers, cattle and poultry feed, medicines, drugs, agriculture inputs and key building materials is also going on in full swing.
There was a top level meeting of senior ministers and officials in Srinagar to assess needs of the region.
Principal secretary power development department AK Mehta said Rs 15 crore and Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for purchasing and stocking of high speed diesel generators (HSDG) to generate power in Kargil and Leh districts respectively during the winter months.
"An additional amount of Rs5 core was needed to meet the power requirements appropriately," he added.