J&K assembly passed a resolution asking government of India to reconsider the subsidy and price hike of LPG in J&K. The sitting started with an uproar from the opposition parties derailing the scheduled business of the house including the question hour.
After a ruckus for 15 minutes, when the Speaker finally suspended the routine business, the participants in the LPG related debate made speeches. They highlighted the crisis faced by the middle and lower middle class families whose connections are being blocked by the oil companies. The government, they said, has added to their woes by seeking re-verification thus blocking their connections. “LPG cylinder costs around Rs 800 in all over India but it is only in J&K that a cylinder costs Rs 1000,” says Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the opposition, PDP. She was supported by Harsh Dev Singh of Panthers party who said that there are 73% Indians who cannot afford a square meal.
But Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, lawmaker from CPI (M) criticized central government and said, “It is fiction that petroleum prices have increased internationally and it is a lie that oil companies in India are incurring losses.”
“The price hike is not going to affect the top officials who are busy in buying their properties outside the state but are not able to deposit their electricity bills,” said Engineer Abdul Rasheed, MLA Langate.
But former home minster A R Veeri, made it clear that if government fails to curb the price hike, “we will be compelled to launch an agitation.”
He further added that price hike is not the only issue faced by people in J&K, there are around 1, 58,000 families who are without ration cards.
In a rather hilarious manner Veeri suggested that government should utilize funds like Secret Funds that Engineer said is being used to fund informers, additional petrol costs that wives of ministers and bureaucrats are burning during shopping on weekends and ministers by going to their constituencies to subsidize the LPG.
He even suggested government to tap the phone calls of the bureaucrats on the same pattern as it is bugging those of others.
Lawmakers also suggested that the government should close down its sick units and instead should divert those funds in getting subsidies. Qammar Ali Akhoon, minister CAPD accepted that his ministry had requested centre to allow the state to continue their work with old system but centre had rejected the proposal. He said, “We are trying to solve the issues of shortage and for that we will be providing a separate gas agency for every 4000 people.”
However, Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather while defending the hike said that only 44% of the population use 6 or below 6 cylinders a year. “State government has not even 1% role in setting or changing the prices of LPG and state government is helpless,” said Rather. However opposition accused him of representing the Indian government instead of the state government.
“Presently there are 15 lakh LPG connections in state and it is not possible to take burden of extra subsidies as that will cut short other funds,” said Rather.
Reacting to Rather’s statement Mehbooba, said that “there is no accountability of funds and that is why our honorable ministers buy properties in Dubai.” Later Mehbooba walked out of the house followed by BJP and Panthers party lawmakers.
Angry Rather suggested Mehbooba to go to accountability commission and threatened he can lodge an FIR and a defamation case against Mehbooba. And in absence of PDP, Panthers party and BJP, House unanimously passed a resolution asking centre to reconsider the matter.