Traders call for a shutdown in Kashmir over cooking gas price hike

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 10:50 hrs

Traders in Srinagar called for a 12-hour shutdown on Friday over the recent hike in the prices of cooking gas cylinders.

Recently, the government had increased the price of cooking gas cylinders rupees 11.42 per cylinder.

Markets in the main city wore a deserted look, with shops locked and vehicles were not plying on the roads.

A resident said that cooking gas cylinder is a very essential commodity in Kashmir and they are dependent on it to a great extent.

"Traders have called for this shutdown and the transport is also not plying and the reason is crisis of gas. The environmental factors (such as the winters) aggravate the crisis of the hiked fuel prices. We cannot do anything without gas, especially during the chilly winter season. So we appeal to the higher authorities, our chief minister and others that they should take an initiative to bring down the gas prices and resolve the situation," said Tarique Ahmad, a resident.

In a protest for the same cause hundreds of activists of trade unions had taken to the streets on Monday in Srinagar.

Meanwhile, another resident, Altaf, demanded that the government should have kept in mind the needs of the locals before taking the decision to hike as the festive season was round the corner.

"The rate of cooking gas hiked by the government has also increased the crisis in Kashmir. The rates have doubled and people are illegally selling the cylinders. The government should have considered that 'Eid' and 'Christmas' are around the corner. Now the people will not be able to afford the gas during the time of festivities.

What will the low-income class do? When he will not be able to afford the gas at such high rates, how will he manage his family?" he said.

The government had raised the price of heavily subsidised diesel recently to rein in its fiscal deficit and counter the threat of becoming the first of the big emerging economies to be downgraded to junk.

A cabinet committee increased diesel prices by rupees five per litre recently. That translates as a 14 percent rise, including taxes. The hike is the first in 15 months.

The committee also decided to limit the number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders per household to six per year, a move seen as hitting the poor hard. Any LPG cylinders bought over this ceiling will be at market rates, which could almost double the price.

The government on September 14, with an aim to usher progressive economic reforms, resolved to let FDI (foreign direct investment) in the country's retail sector as well as aviation and broadcasting segments.

Opposition parties had also forced the government to reverse its decisions on hiking fuel prices in the past, something that has been bleeding the government's coffers. (ANI)

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