Fuel crisis continues across Kashmir Valley

In Kashmir where survival is the priority, from past few days a new concern has emerged among the panicked population: petrol, which has gone rare despite official claims that stocks have been replenished.
Two days back, divisional commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan had announced end of petrol shortage with arrival of 67 petrol loaded tankers in valley.

However, on ground situation seems otherwise. From north to south and east to west in Srinagar and other districts, Kashmir Post found many petrol pumps running dry, with either supplies being sold out or waiting for supplies to arrive.
Take the case of Khursheed Ahmad Parmu, a resident of Soura locality in Srinagar. Parmu from last three days has been trying to fetch petrol for his two wheeler, but there hasn’t any luck for him until now.
“Today, I checked with many filling stations including the one at Millstop, Vicharnag, Ahmednagar and now Soura. I couldn’t get it,” said Parmu, a government employee, who had to return disappointed also at Soura filling station.

Similar, has been the case with Mohammad Altaf of Harwan.
Altaf, who is involved in furnishing business, said shortage of petrol is hitting his business.
“I tried at four filling stations from Habak to Rainawari to get some petrol. So, far there has been no success. Now, somebody told me that petrol is available here, so I reached here as well,” said Altaf, waiting among the hordes of people outside the filling station at Munawarbad.
Ask anybody among the people waiting to get petrol at Munawarbad about the urgency to get petrol, they all reply in chorus: “there is prediction that weather is going to be bad till next week. So, we are not going to take any chances”.

The situation has been similar in south Kashmir. “I have been looking for petrol at Khanabal, Nai basti, Sangam from morning. I couldn’t get it,” said Muneem Farooq Itoo, a banker from Anantnag.
According to Kashmir Valley Petroleum Dealers Association (KVPDA), there are 230 filling stations in the valley of which 129 belong to Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), while rest other equally belong to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited(BPCL) and HPCL(Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited).
“On an average valley has a consumption of 1.75 lakh litres of petrol daily. In winters, however, there is 60 percent decrease in the sales owing to outflow of vehicles to Jammu and other states, since many move out in their vehicles or simply keep them at home,” said Bilal Ahmad Bhat, spokesperson of KVPDA.

Bhat relates shortage of petrol in the valley due to disallowing of oil tankers through Nashri tunnel along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
“Due to it they (oil tankers) weighing around 24 tonnes have to cover an uphill distance of 45 kilometers. This they are able to do in two and a half hours via Patnitop. The journey takes long to reach oil tankers to valley,” explained Bhat.
Bhat added due to this reason they weren’t able to store any petrol this winter.
“Otherwise, we used to have sufficient stocks for one and half months every winter,” said Bhat.

Also, what is adding to petrol scarcity in Kashmir is unnecessary hoarding by people, said Bhat.
Two days back, people with jerry cans where seen thronging filling stations wherever petrol was available, after days of extreme shortage, which is in violation of marketing discipline guideline (MDG), while law enforcement agencies failed to check the violation.
The guideline prevents sale of petroleum products in open. Also, the administration had announced that fixed quantity would be provided to the customers, so that equitable distribution of petrol is ensured, however, that too was thrown to winds, with many filling station owners saying that they weren’t able to adhere to the norms owing to public pressure.

At some filling stations including Hyderpora and Vicharnag, Bhat said over 18000 litres of petrol were sold, which usually gets consumed in three to four days.
“People are asking us to provide them petrol in cans, since their cars are lying empty at home. You have to,” said Bhat.
After running dry for days, filling stations are witnessing chaos. The example of it is Vicharnag filling station, whose dispensing units have been covered with tin sheets after angry people, who didn’t get any petrol tried to break them.

Waseem Ahmad Bhat, owner of the filling station said had a tough time dealing with customers, after there was huge rush at his filling station.
“Though police tried to help us, but rush was so huge that they couldn’t control it. Some elements also took advantage of the chaos resulting into loss of Rs 20000 to us,” said Bhat.
However, divisional commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan claimed that sufficient stocks are available in the region.
“You have to understand that everybody is going to fetch petrol. Even those who have it,” said Khan.
Asked about why administration hasn’t been able to ensure equitable distribution and violation of norms, Khan said: “We will take action definitely. Nobody would be allowed to do so”