Kerosene dealers take to streets against quota cut

Kerosene dealers take to streets against quota cut

Iqbal Kirmani

SRINAGAR: The Coordination Committee of Retail Kerosene Oil Dealers Thursday protested against New Delhi’s decision of reducing the kerosene quota to Kashmir Valley.
Holding banners and placards, scores of dealers gathered here to stage the protest. Raising slogans against New Delhi, they were demanding immediate revocation of the order.
Talking to reporters, they said the decision has been taken without considering the prevailing situation in the Valley.
“We work on commission bases, earning our living by selling kerosene to the people. We don’t have any fixed salary. The reduction in quota will hit us badly,” Muhammad Hussain, a dealer, said.
In its December 31 order, India’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas reduced the quota of kerosene to Kashmir by about 18.48 lakh litres.
According to the new allocation, every ration card holder will on an average get three litres of kerosene per month against 4.48 litres allotted earlier.
According to the protesting dealers, the Valley was already getting insufficient quantity of kerosene.
“We were getting only 33 per cent of the actual requirement. And now the quota has been reduced further,” the protesters said.
The protesters asked New Delhi to depute a team to the region for assessment.
“Let them come and see how the reduction in quota will affect us all. New Delhi shall take into consideration the climatic conditions of the Valley, especially during winters. If they look at the ground situation, we are sure the decision will be revoked,” they said.
Ever since the decision was made, the business fraternity of the Valley has been vehemently condemning it.
According to Shakeel Qalandar, a renowned senior civil society member and former President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the move reflects New Delhi’s “insensitivity” towards the plight of Kashmiris.
“How can New Delhi make such a move when it claims to consider Kashmir as an integral part of India?” he asked.
“The quota was cut at a time when New Delhi was actually required to increase it,” he added.
Shakeel said reduction in quota would hit the livelihood of many people in the Valley.
“Even the educated youth who work as kerosene dealers would be affected,” he said.
Shakeel too demanded that a team from New Delhi should visit the Valley to assess the situation.
“The quota of kerosene was decided on the basis of 2001 census despite the fact that population has increased significantly since then. New Delhi needs to review its decision,” he said.

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