Srinagar: Hours after its bizarre order banning the sale, possession, and use of electric heating appliances even as the Valley reels under a cold weather, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district late Saturday withdrew it with a “correction.”
The qualified order came after the earlier order was met with sharp criticism from political parties across spectrum.
“Whereas this office has issued an order under section 144 of the CrPC, with an objective to ensure efficient use of electricity, its conservation and prevent the use of prohibited/unauthorised crude heating devices,” Shyambir, district magistrate Ganderbal, said in the new order.
“Therefore, I… amend the operative part of the said order and issue directions as – for efficient use of energy, its conservation and for safety of life and property, do hereby prohibit sale, purchase and use of banned nichrome coil based crude water heaters and crude cooking heaters, which do not conform to the relevant specifications of the Bureau of Indian Standard,” the new order said.
Earlier in the day, the district magistrate or the deputy commissioner of the central Kashmir district had imposed a ban on the sale, possession and use of electric heating appliances, even as the Valley witnessed heavy snowfall in the higher reaches.
The order had stated that the decision was taken to avoid any damage to transmission lines, unscheduled power cuts and provide hassle-free electricity supply to consumers.
“… it has been apprehended that non-judicious use of electric appliances such as blowers, heaters and radiators etc. may cause damages to transmission lines due to heavy load, resulting in disturbance in hassle-free power supply,” the order read.
“By using such electric appliances, there is every apprehension of short circuits which ultimately results in fire incidents during the winter season due to which there is loss to life and property,” it said.
“… in exercise of powers vested in me by virtue of Section 144 CrPC of 1973, I hereby impose a blanket ban on the storage, sale, possession and use of heavy heating appliances such as blowers, heaters and radiators etc within the territorial jurisdiction of District Ganderbal with immediate effect,” the district magistrate had said.
The order stated that the decision was taken to provide hassle-free electricity supply to consumers, government offices and hospitals and avoid unscheduled power cuts which cause inconvenience to the general public and disruption of services of emergent nature, especially patient care.
Any violation of the order shall attract punitive action as warranted under relevant laws, it had said.
The order had drawn sharp reactions from political leaders and Twitterati who dubbed it “inhuman” and demanded that the Ganderbal DM be sacked.
Sharing a copy of the order on Twitter, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to have the “draconian order” withdrawn.
“This is a ridiculous order. How can the administration impose a blanket ban on sale, usage and even storage of electrical heaters? Is the DC’s heating/cooling AC covered under this Sec 144 ban? Will he have it removed from his office/home? Are people supposed to freeze to death,” Abdullah asked.
“Violation of Sec 144 orders result in arrest. Is this heartless administration going to arrest parents who want to save their children from freezing to death? Or children who want to protect aged parents from the cold? @OfficeOfLGJandK must have this draconian order withdrawn,” he said.
PDP spokesperson Mohit Bhan asked if such orders are issued anywhere in the country’s summer belt.
“Do we issue such orders anywhere in the summer belt of the country to not use Air Conditioners during peak summers and make it a criminal offence if not obeyed. It’s evident someone who doesn’t understand the landscape & geography of the place can only issue such orders,” he tweeted.
In a tweet, senior PDP leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar said, “Dear fellow citizens, this is where Kashmir is in the 5th year of Amrit Kaal. Night temperature is below freezing point and use of heaters has been criminalised. We have six months of snow, rain and frost ahead of us. Are we going to be frozen to death?”
National spokesperson of TMC Saket Gokhale termed the order “shocking and inhuman.”
“The DM of Ganderbal (a non-Kashmiri) in J&K has ordered a blanket ban on use & possession of heaters in homes. The temperature in Ganderbal right now is 10 degrees in the day & 2 degrees at night. Are you running a penal colony, @dcganderbal,” he asked.
“I think DC Ganderbal should be terminated with immediate effect for this irresponsible and potentially dangerous order,” a Twitter user, Tariq Tramboo, said.