No LPG, back to basics in Kashmir

No LPG, back to basics in Kashmir

It is not the first time that people in Kashmir are seeing snowfall in winter. But this time the severe cold has brought a change in the lifestyle of people in the valley.

Earlier, the norm was that most people in rural areas used to grow food instead of buying food. Of late they had switched to using LPG and along with it, came a ‘modern’ habit of cooking with comfort.

But when LPG shortage suddenly hit the valley, even people in non-rural areas were forced to switch back to the time-tested hearths.

Last fortnight, the government rationed LPG cylinders as the highways were blocked. Only five kilograms of LPG was filled into the standard cylinders. Police were also deployed to watch over huge crowds demanding more LPGs.

However, people in villages did not even notice that there was a shortage of cooking gas as they have been using the traditional hearths. Srinagar residents were the worst hit. “Apart from the cold, the LPG shortage was too much for us to handle,” said Shakeel Ahmad Ramshoo, a prof in KU.

Some residents are using electric cookers instead of LPGs or hearths. Mutton, poultry and vegetables are also available in limited quantities. Kashmir, which has some of the best meadows in the world, cannot give enough farm produce in winter, so people have started buying food items in a break from tradition.

Now, the valley’s entire mutton supply comes from Rajasthan, technically a desert. In the past, every house used to have a kitchen garden or a flock of sheep for wool and meat in times of need.

Even agricultural land is being sold at exorbitant rates for commercial purposes despite a local law forbidding the same, alleged farmers. Maintaining kitchen gardens is now seen as a futile exercise.

Lucrative land prices have tempted farmers to sell their ancestral land for new ‘comfort technologies’.