But for New Delhi’s “intervention,” the NHPC would have cut power supply to Jammu and Kashmir on February 15 due to a massive payment default of Rs 1, 045 crore, or so media reports say. This is one rare instance where the state’s “sensitive” nature has actually come to the rescue of the common Kashmiri who would otherwise have been stripped even of the flimsy defence of severely-rationed electricity in the middle of a prolonged, icy winter. The reports, however, have once again exposed the Jammu and Kashmir government’s claims of improving the state’s power situation and managing a larger, and more equitable, share from the central Corporation’s power kitty.
The NHPC’s generosity in staying its hand could have had something to do with the fact that nearly half of its total power generation comes from Jammu and Kashmir where it has colluded with the ruling classes to plunder water resources and keep the state chronically power-starved. Kashmir’s profligate rulers ought to ponder where to hide if in the future the Corporation feels less accommodating or guilty and carries out its threat, as it has reportedly dome in the case of Meghalaya for a paltry default of Rs 16 crore?
The NHPC’s banditry in Kashmir is a subject in its own right, but the issue here is the state’s sleepwalking sarkar which has the audacity to seek another mandate after six years of abject failure to deliver on promises made in the previous polls – a sarkar cavalier enough to leave its subjects defenceless virtually on the eve of elections, and go about importuning people in the name of the Almighty to vote it back to power.
The state’s economic survey shows that the government has neither enhanced power generation, nor set the transmission and distribution – that loses to the tune of 60 per cent – right. The corruption-ridden PDD and its compromised policy-makers have been banking on a rickety system, the result of their massive pilfering, to keep themselves in business, at great cost to the public. The unwieldy power department, and its personnel high and low, is not beyond stringing high-tension transmission lines along barbed-wire if it fetches good money.
Read another way, half the state’s default is caused not because people consume more but that half the power is lost in transmission and distribution. The government of India makes funds available to improve infrastructure, but most of them lapse because the inefficient state government cannot utilize them. And next year, New Delhi cuts its funding. So, the game goes on.