An order passed by the Jammu and Kashmir administration asking people of the Valley to stock up liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG cylinders, for two months, has triggered panic among residents, PTI reported on Sunday. In a separate order, the administration also asked for school buildings to be vacated so they can be used as accommodation for security forces in Ganderbal district, heightening the anxiety of people in wake of the recent border tensions with China.
The order, described as a “most urgent matter”, was passed by the Director of the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers, an adviser to Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu, in a meeting on June 23. It asked oil companies in the Valley to make arrangements of adequate stocks of LPG that can last to up to two months at bottling plans as well as godowns.
The department, however, has claimed the order was issued to prevent a shortfall of essential commodities during the closure of the National Highway on account of frequent landslides. It maintained that some people are spreading false information about the exercise.
“We all know that the National Highway-44, between Ramban-Jawahar Tunnel stretch, behaves in an unpredictable manner during the rains,” an unidentified spokesperson of the department told PTI. “Currently, we maintain stock of nearly a month in Kashmir. We have requested the LPG companies to explore the feasibility of maintaining the stock for nearly two months to prevent any panic situations that may arise in the event of highway closure for [a] longer duration or on multiple occasions during the next three months.”
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, however, pointed out that this is the first time the administration has decided to stock up LPG cylinders at the peak of summer. Usually, such exercises are carried out at the onset of a harsh spell of winters.
Abdullah also cited another communique by the Ganderbal district police for making provisions for lodging of central forces, accusing the government of rousing anxiety among people. In the order, the superintendent of police has requested 16 educational institutes in the district, including middle and higher secondary schools be vacated. “In view of the Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra-2020, these educational centres be made available for accommodation of Central Armed Police Force companies,” it order stated.
“Government orders are creating panic in Kashmir and unfortunately after all the lies and false assurances last year even if [or] when the government explains these orders hardly any of us will take the assurances at face value,” Abdullah said in a tweet. “That said they still need to explain these orders.”