Powerless Promise

After repeated directions from the Union Government, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir had announced in 2012 to introduce a mechanism for reducing transmission and distribution losses in the state’s power supply system. A process of Energy Accounting at the level of key power installations was one of the steps sought to be taken. But this initiative too seems to have failed to take off, and thousands of units of electrical energy continue to be lost.

Under the Energy Accounting system, the officer responsible for distribution of electricity was to be made accountable for the units supplied over a particular feeder.  Despite the dire necessity of making a proper inventory of how electricity is being used after it is supplied through a grid station, measures to this effect appear to be confined to official papers only.

The government claims to have spent crores of rupees in revamping the power supply system in the state’s two capital cities, but the PDD has failed to set up a Disaster Management structure to handle a major breakdown. In a recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had revealed that no disaster management setup existed in the state for the immediate restoration of the transmission system in the event of a major electricity failure or fault.

Pertinently, the Union Power Ministry has been regularly asking the state to increase revenue from electricity, bring down its power purchase bill and transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, which were pegged at around 55 to 60 per cent, and initiate other reforms. But the government here couldn’t care less.

Perhaps it needs to carry out an audit of its own performance, and plot the results against the promises it made on the power front the last time the state went to polls. It could be a fitting report card for a party that ridiculed opponents for installing meters and exhorted people to use heaters. The major partner in the ruling coalition probably swept the city of Srinagar in 2008 on the meter hatao, heater jalao slogan, with apologists deriding its predecessor for giving people “the power touch” in lieu of “a healing touch.”  What excuses it has in the 2014 polls remains to be seen.