By Akeel Rashid
The power crisis in the winter season in Kashmir region has literally become a legacy which the successive administrations have been carrying forward serially. The concerned authorities are unwilling to implement any short term or long term solutions to this problem; instead they come up with justifications as to why electricity remains scarce in winters. It is not like, these justifications are not genuine but the problem with these justifications is that they have been shaped into excuses by the authorities and are very often manipulated to hide the failures of the administrations.
This year, one of the most absurd justifications about the power crisis in the valley is being derived from low water level in the river Jehlum and the same has remained a common belief among the people in Kashmir for a longtime now. It just takes eyes to see and understand the fact that electricity from the Uri dam is being generated from diverted water system and this mechanism is designed in such a way that the dam always gets a chunk of water supply. In case, the water level in Jehlum decreases, it will just effect the water flow towards its tributaries. If, however, we will still agree with this notion of the PDD, that water scarcity is causing power crisis in the valley then why don’t we see the northern states of India also plunging into darkness which get the electricity from the same power station.
During winter(s), the demand for electricity increases than the transmission supply which inadvertently results in over-loading (this is not something peculiar Kashmir). For that matter, take into consideration any part of the world or any other state of India; overloading in the time of winter is common everywhere. The main problem here is not about the increase in demand of electricity but the stay in transmission supply. It was recently reported by a daily in Srinagar that the peak demand for power in Kashmir valley is more than 1700 MW. But the existing transmission system has the capacity to import only 1250 MW.
The shortage of electricity in the Kashmir is experienced throughout the year and it only worsens in the winter season. For this simple reason, the problem cannot be looked upon merely as an energy crisis but it has to be attributed to the financial crisis also which is stalling the up-gradation of power infrastructure. Apparently, funds are not being released to increase the power capacity to address the present demand in the valley.
When it comes to people who can play an important role in solving this problem by constituting pressure groups, be it journalists, social activists and so on, the issue only becomes a matter of discussion for them when electricity shortage becomes evident in the winter season. The administration does not need suggestions from anyone; it is certainly well versed on how to solve this problem. Instead, the government needs to be reminded that by shifting of the secretariat and all other offices from Srinagar to Jammu, it is shifting the focus of development to the winter capital also and this is the main reason as why this problem always remain unsolved. The present administration is not an exception when it adheres to this inherited approach of negligence from Jammu capital with regard to the electricity shortage in Kashmir.
Tailpiece: Mehbooba Mufti held a meeting a day before her government had to resume work in the winter capital Jammu. In the meeting, she directed the concerned officials to ensure maximum power supply in the valley especially during the night time and morning prayer time. In this way, she reiterated the power curtailment scheduled of PDD for Kashmir.
—The author is a student of International Relations at IUST, Awantipora and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org