Last summer, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs sprang surprise to the nation by suddenly announcing a new cooking gas policy for consumers. Under new dispensation only six cooking gas cylinders could be allowed to a registered consumer on subsidised rates. If his requirement was more than six subsidized cylinders, he could buy the additional from open market but at market price which is more than double the subsidized price of LPG cylinder. A plethora of arguments was advanced by the Union Minister for Oil and Petroleum to justify the new decision which meant putting a large segment of civil society to much financial burden. There were protests but only feeble ones, not enough to create an impression on the decision making body. Nearly six months later, the Oil Ministry made a small goodwill gesture to the millions of indigenous consumers by increasing the number of subsidized cylinder from six to nine in one financial year.
Now a happy surprise has been sprung just three days back when the UPA-II Government made a sudden announcement that in further relaxation of existing orders, consumers would now be authorised to buy twelve cylinders instead of a quota of nine cylinders per family per year on subsidized rates. Obviously, there must have been a feeling lurking in the mind with the authorities that a harsh decision had been taken in this context especially keeping in mind a number of factors and ground reality. Naturally ordinary people welcome the decision as it brings them much relief especially to those who have a large family to support.
The decision is welcome as far as our State is concerned. It has to be noted that J&K is a hilly state with a long and severe winter in most parts of the valley, Ladakh and Pir Panchal ranges. We have already shortage of electric power and if the number of gas cylinders on subsidized rates is also reduced, it will multiply the difficulties of people living in higher reaches of the State. We have also road blocks owing to landslides during winter which causes disruption in normal flow of traffic. All these combine to multiply the hardships for our people. The decision of allowing 12 cylinders on subsidized rates for one family for one year is most welcome and will bring relief to a large number of families in our State. While appreciating the decision of the Government, we would like to impress upon the authorities to streamline the delivery system and ensure uninterrupted supply of LPG to the consumers. A mechanism should be evolved that will ensure regular supply of gas during harsh winter months or in situations of road blocks and landslides or snowfalls. After all cooking gas is a necessity that cannot be left to the vagaries of nature.