Editorial: Resolving power issues

Water is one resource which can take any place to heights of achievement and progress. Though the resource has innumerable values, the main usages of water is its potential for use in the generation of hydel power.

Kashmir is one such place which boats of rich water resources which can play a key role in industrialization and modernization of various sectors that hold key to the state’s growth.

However, in spite of a great potential capacity, only a limited percentage of water resources is utilized for the generation of hydel power in Kashmir valley.

Though some growth in power installation and generation has shown an increase from a negligible base of 3 megawatts to 4 megawatts in 1950-51 to 151.60 megawatts (it is in addition to 430 megawatts of Uri Hydel Power Project which is under central government feeding power to North Grid). Other important projects are Lower Jhelum (105 MW), Upper Sindh (22.6 MW), Ganderbal (15 MW) and Mohra (9 MW).

Kashmir has enormous potential of hydel power, which however has not been developed to its optimum. The projects so far commissioned have a generating potentiality of 151.60 MW, the projects under investigation have a huge potentiality of 1246 MW, and furthermore, the projects which have been identified but not yet investigated have a potentiality of 1250 MW.

Take for an example the Southern district of Anantnag. The district has one of the fast flowing rivers, Lidder running through it, however, no power house has been designed to capitalize on the fast flowing Lidder.

Though some awakening has now taken place, the government has announced various small power projects like Chandanwari (50 MW), Laripora (22 MW), Bawan (20 MW), Pahalgam (3 MW) and Batakote (23MW). In addition to this, government has also planned many other schemes like Brinji Hydel Scheme (7 MW) on Brinji Nallah, Kandia Hydel Scheme ( 72 MW) on Kandia Nallah, and Vishav Hydel Scheme( 65 MW) at Aharbal in Kulgam.

But what remains to be seen is the policy adopted by the government functionaries while arranging customers for the power generated in the state. We have presently three government bodies to manage the affairs of the power department.

The Power Development Department (PDD), Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) and Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC).

However, all these lack coordination in some areas that cannot be called healthy by any stretch of imagination. Baglihar Hydroelectric Projectís Stage-II with an installed capacity of 450 Mega Watts was taken up for execution by the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation as was approved by the State in March, 2012. All the three units having capacity to generate 150 Mega Watts of electricity each were commissioned between September 2015 and May 2016 and commercially the project was commissioned on May 4, 2016.

However, during the past over one year the JKSPDC has failed to get appropriate buyers of the electricity. The reason is that power supplied from phase II is to be sold at Rs. 4.31 per unit which is the highest in the entire north Indian belt.

The rate constraint discourages buyers. As such the Corporation is forced to sell power to PDD at a cost of Rs. 2.61 per unit which is a cheap rate.

This situation has marred the growth of power projects and if things continue in such a messy way, the governments claims that developing the power generation base will ease most of the problems on the fiscal front will crash-land even before the takeoff.

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