6 days prior IAF air strikes, Government said Northen air fields to tank up
State-run oil companies were asked to top up jet fuel at northern airfields and storage depots six days before the air strike on a terror camp inside Pakistan on Tuesday, while a chain of 500 tankers are on way to the Kashmir region carrying replenishments, including motor fuels and kerosene.
“As we speak, some 30 tankers have crossed the Banihal tunnel on way to the Valley as the Jammu-Srinagar road reopened today after being blocked by an avalanche for days. All civil and military airports in the northern and western regions overlooking the Pakistan border have a full stock of ATF (aviation turbine fuel),” a top government official told TOI on Wednesday.
Ample fuel stock and uninterrupted supply chain hold key to the effective speed and staying power of a military machine. Fuel supply to the northern region has always been strategically important since it is home to some of the most hostile geographies in the country and shares two borders — Pakistan and China. The current tension between India and Pakistan has added a sense of urgency to the issue.
That is why, the official said, the oil companies have maintained fuel storage levels for the forces, though civil supplies have faced rationing due to periodic disruptions in the supply chain from Jammu and panic buying. Avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall and landslides have periodically disrupted traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. This is Kashmir’s sole road link to the rest of the country as the other link through Himachal Pradesh and Leh-Kargil remains buried under 25-30 feet of snow at this time of the year.
The Ladakh region too remains cut off but has the requisite ATF and motor fuel stockpile built up in summer when road links through Kargil and Srinagar as well as Himachal Pradesh open up. “There is enough fuel stock in storage facilities of Ladakh. Barrels can also be airlifted quickly,” the official said. India’s largest oil refiner and fuel retailer IndianOil has storage facilities at Kargil, Leh and Nyoma in eastern Ladakh.
In addition, the defence forces have storages. These facilities are filled up in a unique maintenance operation that is larger than the Berlin Airlift. Every year around mid-May, a chain of 1,000 fuel tankers roll out daily from supply points in Punjab and Haryana. This goes on till end-October when the mountain passes start freezing over.
Source: Post originally appeared in TimesofIndia.