SRINAGAR: To a tremendous increase in the power-consumer base and energy requirement in the last four years, the energy availability in Jammu and Kashmir has improved only marginally, leaving the water-rich state struggling with energy deficiency.
The official figures suggest that while both consumer base and the demand for energy has surged by more than 50 per cent since 2010-11, the growth in availability of the energy has been hovering around 11-12 per cent.
The number of electricity users in the state has gone up by about 50 per cent since 2010-11. The number of consumers, domestic as well as commercial, in the state was 12, 77, 369 in 2010-11, growing to 19, 14, 527 in 2014-15. It is expected to rise further to 19, 63, 250 by the end of next fiscal—a figure 53.69 per cent more than that of 2010-11.
The figures have been quoted by the Distribution division of the Power Development Department in its revised annual plan submitted to J&K State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The demand for electricity has increased quite proportionately during the period. The “connected load” has swelled from 1623 Megawatt in 2010-11 to 2911 Megawatt in 2014-15, a percentage increase of 79.35. And it is likely to grow to 3189 Megawatt (96.48 per cent more than 2010-11) by the end of 2015-16.
However, the energy available to the state from all sources has only increased marginally in the four year period. The state had 10, 301 Million Units of energy available in 2010. In 2014-15, the figure went up by only 11 per cent to 11, 506 Million Units, and is expected to stay more or less constant, with 11, 580 Million Units, in 2015-16.
The production, maintenance, and distribution of power have been among the major issues in the state during the recent years.
The major hydro-electric power plants in the water-rich state are controversially controlled by the New Delhi-based National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC). The state gets as royalty only a miniscule share of the produced electricity, which is said to be the major contributor to NHPC’s total production across India.
Recently, the civil society and the state government have been seeking return of several NHPC-controlled projects whose construction cost the company has recovered over the years. So far, both NHPC and New Delhi have ignored the demand.
The figures suggest that energy available to the state CPSUs including NHPC has increased by just 12.99 per cent since 2010. The state had about 8362 Million Units available from CPSUs in 2010-11, and it increased to 9449 Million Units in 2014-15. The availability stayed is likely to stay unchanged by the end of next fiscal year.
The energy available from the JK State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC), which controls the state-owned power projects, has improved by just 10.16 per cent in the four years. The energy procured from JKSPDC during the current and the next fiscal is about 2546 Million Units compared to 2310 Million Units purchased in 2010-11.
Having to purchase electricity at higher rates, the state has already increased the power tariff paid by domestic and the commercial consumers. The Omar Abdullah government is now proposing to reverse the hike, sensing that it may have been one of the people-unfriendly policies that is said to have led to the crashing defeat of National Conference and Congress in recently held Lok Sabha polls.
The Chief Minister is often heard claiming credit for starting many power projects to end power crisis faced by the state, especially during winters. But the projects are still under-construction, expected to take time in completion. The tussle for return of the power projects under NHPC—the projects, if returned, are expected to be a major boost to the state’s energy production and availability—too doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.