400 MW power deficit, Kashmir plunging in darkness
Srinagar: Winter is coming and Kashmir is woefully unprepared. Hours-long power cuts have begun already, with the Power Development Department deciding it’s time to cut supply for 21 hours a week in metered areas and twice that, 42 hours, in non-metered areas every week.
The chief engineer of the Power Development Department (PDD), Kashmir, Shahnaz Goni earlier told a local news agency that the department is facing deficit of 400 MW (mega watt) of power.
The demand for electricity in Kashmir Division is 1600 MW but the PDD has only 1200 MW to supply, the chief engineer was quoted as saying.
Shabir Ahmad Malik, a resident of Bemina in Srinagar, said, “It is winter and we have to take long power cuts for granted.”
People complain that the schedule of power cuts is unjust and the power cuts are more than what are scheduled.
“We have power for three hours and for the next three it is gone. This is the pattern for the entire day,” a resident of Lawaypora, in the outskirts of Srinagar, told Kashmir Reader.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh holds charge of Power. He did not respond to repeated correspondence from Kashmir Reader, neither did other top officials of the PDD.
The PDD chief engineer had told a news agency that metered areas were having a one-hour power cut in the morning, in the day, and in the evening, daily. The non-metered areas had two-hour power cuts thrice a day.
People didn’t agree with her statement. They said there are much longer cuts and at more frequent intervals.
In winter Kashmir faces severe electricity problems due to use of electrical appliances for heating. Officials say the excess load breaks down the supply system in many areas.
“Now we will witness transformer breakdowns in a number of areas and it will be another headache for the department,” said an official of the PDD.
“The major issue with the department is not the availability of electricity but the power infrastructure. There is more than fifty percent loss of electricity in transmission and distribution,” the official said.
The government has admitted to the infrastructure problem and has approved projects to install new infrastructure.
However, top officials say that the work is at a standstill.
The PDD has also been accusing people of power theft. “We have seen that power thefts and use of heaters and boilers by consumers cause overloading,” the chief engineer had said.
Officials said that if the new infrastructure is installed, it will bar people from theft.
The business community says they are the worst sufferers.
“Business community is already suffering due to the prevailing situation and our condition has deteriorated because of the poor power supply,” said Kashmir Economic Alliance Chairman Muhammad Yasin Khan.
“It is affecting all types of businesses, from small manufacturing firms to shopkeepers,” Khan said.
“We don’t understand why the government is not preparing for winters,” an exasperated Khan said.