SRINAGAR: The continuous closure of the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National highway has caused a shortage of essentials and fuel in the landlocked Valley.
The 296 km long Srinagar-Jammu highway, which is the only link road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, is closed from last seven days as heavy snowfall had made the road not trafficable.
The snowfall and rainfall had triggered avalanches and landslides at many places on the highway, hampering the restoration work.
Due to continuous closure of the highway, the Valley is facing a shortage of essentials, fresh vegetables, mutton, poultry products, fuel and cooking gas.
The Valley is totally dependent on Srinagar-Jammu highway for supplies and the highway frequently remains closed during winter months, adding to woes of the people in Kashmir. Owing to closure of the highway, Valley is facing a shortage of fresh vegetables.
Only onions, potatoes, carrots and turnips are available in the markets while other vegetables have gone out of stock. The shopkeepers have also resorted to over pricing and are selling spinach (Kashmiri saag) at Rs 100 per kilogramme in Srinagar.
The poultry products including chickens and eggs have also nearly gone out of stock in Valley.
In most places in Srinagar and other parts of Valley, chickens and eggs are not available in the market. However, at some places wherever chicken is available, it is being sold at Rs 180 per kilogramme and similarly, eggs, if available, are being sold at Rs 70-80 per dozen.
The Valley is also facing a shortage of mutton. Most of the mutton shops in Kashmir are closed as the shopkeepers don't have livestock available with them. However, at some places wherever mutton is available, it is being sold at exorbitant rates by the butchers. People complain that instead of Rs 420 per kilogram fixed by the government, it is being sold at Rs 550-600 per kg.
Besides, there is also a shortage of cooking gas in the Valley."The Indian Oil Company (IOC) used to distribute 8000 cylinders per day in the Valley. But now we don't have any stock with us," said Jagmohan Raina, one of the distributors of the IOC cooking gas in the Valley.
The HP was distributing about 20,000 cylinders and Bharat Petroleum 3000 cylinders per day in the Valley. "Both the companies are now running out of stock," an official said.
Due to the shortage of fuel, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has directed rationing of petrol and diesel.
The petrol pump owners have been directed not to issue more than 3 litres of petrol per vehicle per day. The fuel stations have also been directed not to supply more than 10 litres of diesel to the commercial vehicles per day.
Meanwhile, there is finally good news for the Valleyites as officials said Srinagar-Jammu highway was re-opened in the evening and passenger and supply vehicles stranded on the highway would be allowed to move towards Srinagar.