As the mercury begins to drop in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), firewood prices have started taking an upward trend.
Following sporadic showers in G-B last week, the temperature in Gilgit dropped to as low as 5 Celsius on Tuesday. However firewood in some parts of the region was being sold for Rs550 per 40kg, Rs100 more than last year.
“There is a shortage of firewood in the whole city,” said Munir Khan, a resident of Gilgit. “I have been searching for fuel for the past one week but have not been able to find any stock at reasonable rates,” he said.
Mahboob Khan, a firewood dealer in Gilgit, said there is a shortage in the market this year. “Dealers who provide us with the required fuel every winter haven’t contacted us so far,” he said.
Also supply of wood from Diamer Valley hasn’t started as yet due to a ban placed by G-B’s Forest Department on transporting wood out of the valley, he added. “The crisis of firewood will remain in Gilgit as long as the transportation ban isn’t lifted,” he said.
G-B Minister for Forests and Wildlife, Aftab Haider, told The Express Tribune that the government will decide soon whether or not to allow transportation of timber from Diamer to the rest of the G-B region in the coming months.
Aqeel Mohammad, a resident of Amphery, said that they had some stock of wood but the cost was too high. “The vendor is demanding Rs550 for 40 kgs which isn’t within my budget,” he said.
Firewood is the primary fuel in G-B during winters, when temperatures can go down to as much as -15 Celsius. Therefore, winter’s arrival is normally synonymous with a water, firewood, and power crisis in this part of the country. Majority of the people keep a stock of firewood in view of this situation; however the demand of firewood still increases, leading to a rise in prices.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2011.