SRINAGAR: The nearly 50-year-old kerosene subsidy started during the government of former Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq will be suspended by the end of this year. The end of the government-subsidised supply will add kerosene to the list of items for which such supply has already been suspended.
Food Minister Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali told Kashmir Reader that the Government of India (GoI), which was funding the major part of the kerosene distribution to the state, has decided to end the assistance by 2018 end.
He said the move has come due to the GoI’s policy of replacing the fuel by LPG. And, he said, the state government has been working to make LPG available to all households by that time.
“As per the data, 78 percent of the population gets LPG supply. We are working on the rest of the 22 percent also getting it,” said Ali. “For that, 56 gas agencies will be added by March 2018 to meet the demand. This will take the total number of agencies to 179.”
According to historian Zarief Ahmad Zarief, the kerosene subsidy was started by Sadiq in 1964. It was initially given as per the requirement of a household. As the need increased, the fuel, which was used for various purposes, was rationalised and given as per the supply.
He said the end of kerosene supply will add to the list that includes firewood, clothing, cooking oil and charcoal, the subsidised supply of which were ended under various governments of the state. He said the distribution of clothing, rice, salt and sugar was started by former Prime Minister Late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. This supply was intensified by former Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, but suspended by their successors.
Kerosene was being provided at nominal rates compared to market prices. The consumer paid only a nominal price, while its purchase and distribution charges were paid by GoI and the state government, respectively.
The subsidised supply has been decreasing over the years. In 2015, JK was among the five northern Indian states whose kerosene quota had been reduced by 33.34 percent by New Delhi, the highest slash in India at that time. As per the government records, the state distributed about 9,000 kilo litres (Kls) of kerosene each for the month of January, February and March 2014. But for the corresponding period of 2015, the quota distributed was only nearly 6000 Kls each month. Today, its supply has been reduced to3000 kls per month, as per the government figures.