Govt gives assurances that it will provide
SRINAGAR: For consumers who want to procure small quantities of kerosene for different, usually household, purposes, the government has not set up any facility so far for retail sale of this fuel, being more occupied instead in catering to customers who have demands of at least 12,000 litres.
Kerosene was formerly Kashmir’s dominant fuel with the government supplying it through the public distribution system. Today, it has been slowly replaced by Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), leaving customers who need kerosene in small quantities with no outlet from where to purchase it.
Mohammad Sultan Nakashi needs kerosene for his work of imprinting designs for embroidery on clothes. “I need kerosene not in bulk quantity, but 10 to 15 litres is sufficient for me. This is just not available in the open market.”
Arranging kerosene is difficult nowadays, and the government should set up outlets where it can be more readily procured.
Director Food, Civil supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA), Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani said that if the government observes an increase in kerosene demand, it will make efforts to meet it and provide for customers. However, “customers without subsidy will have to pay Rs 60-70 rupees per litre”, he said adding that at present the government can facilitate bulk demands of 12,000 litres.
The Director added that the government is planning to make India smoke free, which is why kerosene allocation is being reduced and free LPG connections are being distributed across India.
“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 Wani. “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,” he further said.
Meanwhile many kerosene oil dealers are aghast over the reduction of the kerosene quota to J&K. They said their businesses have been badly affected.
“They have slashed our allocation by over 70 lakh litres to 28 lakh litres,” said dealer Ghulam Rasool Shah. “I otherwise receive 8,000 litres but this time I received only 1,750, which affects me a lot.”
He further said the monthly allocation of kerosene oil to ration holders has now been revised to two litres per month.
Kerosene was previously provided at nominal rates compared to market prices. The consumer paid only a nominal price, while its purchase and distribution charges were paid by the Government of India and the state government respectively.
The subsidised supply has been decreasing over the years. In 2015, J&K was among the five northern Indian states whose kerosene quota had been reduced by New Delhi by 33.34 percent, the highest such slash in India at the time. As per the government records, the state distributed about 9,000 kilolitres (Kls) of kerosene each for the months of January, February and March 2014. But for the corresponding period of 2015, the quota distributed was a little under 6,000 Kls each month. Today, its supply has been reduced to 3,000 Kls per month, as per the government figures.