Jammu: Finance minister Haseeb Drabu said on Friday that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was buying and consuming more power than the national average and other hill states, but transmission losses, evasion of bills, and misuse left it short of electricity.
“I can assure this house that as far as power supply is concerned, money is not a constraint. The government is ready to buy more power and supply it down the line. Even if we buy more power today, we cannot carry it because of transmission and distribution capacity constraints,” Drabu said in the assembly. “Last year, not much infrastructure creation could be done because of the prevailing unrest. Had the last six months not seen the turmoil, we would have been better off this winter,” Drabu said.
He informed that there were 23 lakh households in J&K of which three lakh were still not electrified. The national average for electricity consumption per household was 3 units of electricity per day, he informed.
“Jammu and Kashmir should be buying 3200 MUs to provide electricity to its 20 lakh households. Instead, we buy 6400 MUs for the household segment at an average consumption of 6 units per household after accounting for transmission and distribution [T&D] losses of 30 percent,” he said. “This is one of the highest in the country, even when compared to hilly states. The problem is not with buying less power; in fact, we are buying more than the average household uses in the country. The problem is in supplying and consuming. In terms of supply, it is inadequate and out-dated, and in terms of consuming it is misuse. The only solution is investment in T&D infrastructure which we have made provision for, but it will take time.”
He said that power sector collections are consistently one third or one fourth of what is budgeted. “It is a fact that a vast majority of users don’t pay electricity bills at all or in line with their consumption. We use power indiscriminately for cooking and heating, treating it as a right and a free resource,” the minister said.