Jammu: The opposition walked out of the assembly yet again on Saturday, in protest against the shortage of electricity in the state.
As soon as the question-hour began, members of the National Conference (NC) and the Congress along with some ruling-party MLAs raised the issue of lack of electricity in the Valley. The opposition members asked Speaker Kavinder Gupta to direct the government to apprise the house of the steps being taken to address the power woes in the state.
Speaking on the issue, NC leader and MLA from Shali Bugh, Abdul Majeed Larmi criticised the government’s callous attitude towards people and said, “This government wants people to buy and repair the transformers themselves through their own pockets. In my constituency the people are facing acute shortage of electricity and they have no official to approach, because this government transferred the additional district commissioner only after 14 days due to political considerations.”
On the issue of non-availability of power department officials, Congress leader and MLA from Sopore, Haji Abdul Rashid said, “The Sopore area is without an executive engineer and the people are facing power shortage due to damaged transformers for the past four months. This government is insensitive towards the power shortage in the valley.”
The opposition members were backed by ruling PDP MLA from Shopian, Mohammad Yusuf Bhat, and Abdul Rahim Rather from Kokernag. Both complained of non-availability of electricity in their constituencies due to damaged transformers.
“My constituency is without electricity for the past seven days because many transformers are damaged. The government even after assuring this house hasn’t addressed the issue,” said Mohammad Yusuf Bhat.
The opposition members calmed down after Speaker Kavinder Gupta directed the government to address the issue.
However, the opposition staged a walkout during the discussion on a question asked by senior NC leader and MLA from Khanyar, Ali Mohammad Sagar, who cornered the government over its claims of providing 24-hour uninterrupted electricity throughout the state.
“The government isn’t even respecting its own scheduled power cuts by continuously resorting to unscheduled cuts. When late Mufti Sayeed was CM, this coalition used to claim that they will provide 24-hour electricity but that claim has fallen to ground now,” Sagar said.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Abdul Rehman Veeri informed the house that transmission system failure was the main reason for electricity shortage in the state, particularly in the Valley.
“Gas turbine which was functional during late Mufti Sayeed’s time couldn’t be used this time due to the unrest in the valley. We know that people are in distress and the government is committed to solving the problem of electricity in the valley. The schemes which the government brought in to improve the power situation, they suffered due to the unrest,” Veeri said.
Veeri was backed by minister of state for power Farooq Andrabi, who said that due to the unrest in the Valley, the government couldn’t implement many schemes related to power-sector reform.
Not satisfied with the government’s reply, opposition parties staged a walkout from the assembly.
Speaking to media persons outside the assembly, Congress legislative party chief Nawang Rigzin Johra said, “Even the government knows that there are unscheduled power cuts in the valley since the onset of winter. Their finance minister claimed in the power budget that they have enough money for providing 24-hour electricity in the state, so why are they now coming up with excuses? It is shameful that this government itself admitted that the Pampore gas turbine hasn’t been started this year.”
Also speaking on the issue outside the assembly, NC leader and MLA from Eidgah, Mubarak Gul claimed that people in his constituency are themselves procuring the oil for transformers. “We are accountable to the people and they have been calling us to complain about the power shortage. They are distressed while the government has gone into hibernation,” he said.