The government has decided to shut down the only utility store in the mountainous area of Murree, which facilitates thousands of locals. The closure has perturbed the locals, saying that the store was a big facilitation for thousands of people. “When inflation in the country is at its peak, availability of a utility store in this area was somehow a relief for the people,” the local people say. As per available information, opened by Utility Stores Corporation (USC), the store was situated in the Union Council (UC) Phagwari, Murree. It is a populous union council of District Kohsar (Murree). Some notables of the area held a meeting with relevant authorities in this regard to urge the government to withdraw the decision to close down the only outlet in the area. As per Mehtab, who was part of the meeting, the participants criticized the closure of the outlet and asked authorities concerned to withdraw the decision, otherwise they would opt for other available legal ways to stop this move. “The people of the area are already hit hard by inflation and they used to purchase daily use items from the outlet at subsidized rates. The government decision to shut the store has come as a bolt from the sky,” regretted a local, adding that this logic behind such a decision was beyond understanding. He further said that such a decision of the government would compel masses to purchase daily use items from the market at higher rates. Another local, Zahoor Ahmed Abbasi, said closing the only outlet of USC in the area is unjust, adding that it was catering to not only UC Phagwari population but adjoining areas as well. According to an official of the USC, who has been working at the said outlet, initially the daily sale of this store was fulfilling basic requirements. “Actually, due to the lack of interest of the relevant officials of the store, the sale started decreasing during the last six months,” he said, adding that the authorities concerned instead of taking action against responsible officers have decided to shut down the outlet. When approached, an official at USC Headquarters told this scribe while wishing anonymity that the posted officials at the said store never even asked any demand or supply from the USC Headquarters. Spokesperson Inayat Ullah Daula expressed ignorance over the matter, saying that there is another section in the USC which has all such information. When he was asked to check the relevant section and get back with a detailed version, he didn’t respond. As per USC website, currently the USC has over 4000 store outlets and over 1000 franchise stores with approximately 15 million customers across the country.