Srinagar: The hapless Kashmiri’s are once again made to grapple for warmth this winter as the Power Development Department (PDD) is tightening its grip to squeeze every bit of life left in the people here.
Winter no doubt is a tough period for the people here and whatever resources people have they utilize them to fight off the vagaries of weather. While the people do their bit to fight off the harsh period, the state government and its departments also leave no stone unturned, albeit for making the life of the common man even more miserable.
One such step that can be cited as an example is the recent statement of the Chief Engineer PDD, who threatened the people with more power cuts as the state is showing no signs of overcoming the power crises that has turned worse this year.
The senior officials statement also conveys that all is not well with the PDD which has failed to put in place adequate infrastructure to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
Though the federal government offered a succor by announcing an additional allocation of 792 MW’s out of the central pool, the state failed to capitalize on the initiative as the power infrastructure is so fragile in the state that it cannot withhold any fresh imports.
So does that mean that the state has limited its potential of importing more power-and in case the answer to this question is yes, then who is to be blamed for such a mess. Secondly, if the fault lies with the government then why is the common man made to bear the burden of official failures.
What we are being told is that the peak demand for power in January is likely to reach 3000 MW as the state witnessed an 11 percent increase in peak demand this October compared to October 2016. And given this increased demand the supply will see no increase because the infrastructure put in place will not allow more imports.
In January, the peak demand is always 8 percent more than October. Since, the PDD witnessed increase of 11 percent in peak demand this October, it is obvious that in January the department will face shortfall of 800 MW’s.
Given this grim situation and the official accounts, it is believed that the power scenario would not change in the next one year as the government has failed to put in place the required infrastructure.
So why are the people made to suffer as technically speaking the people in the state consume less electricity compared to any other Indian state.
The state’s per capita power consumption is one of the lowest – just 968 kWh. While the neighbouring states of Punjab consume 1663 kWh per capita, Haryana 1491 kWh, Himachal 1145 kWh and Delhi consumes 1448 kWh. In Gujarat it is 1558 kWh per capita.
However, all these arguments have little or no bearing on the government or the official machinery which has failed to set the system right. Even though the Chief Minister shifted Dheeraj Gupta, who was the power commissioner for failing to get the Alstang grid up and running, the move can be termed as a measure that was too little and too late.
The Alstang and the Budgam grid station have already crossed the required completion deadlines, but why were these two important projects shelved for idiotic reasons is still unclear. If both the grids would have been made functional they would have enhanced Kashmir’s power import capacity from present 1250-MW to 1650-MW which is adequate to meet the present power demand.
But all this needs vision and political will, which needs to be strengthened in case the government intends to do some good to the people in the Valley.