SRINAGAR: Trade groups, Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) and JK Central Contractors Coordination Committee Sunday threatened of street protests if the state government did not shelve privatisation of Power Development Department (PDD).
Talking to reporters, Farooq Dar, senior vice president of KEA, said the privatisation would increase the power tariff by a huge margin leaving the electricity bills beyond the paying capacity of locals.
“Government should take into notice the income of majority of the population before going ahead with the privatisation,” said Farooq. “People at present pay the current tariff with difficulty, and it will be huge burden on people to pay additional fee. If our demands are not met, we will bring people on streets.”
In 2012, the Omar Abdullah led government decided to divide PDD into four power corporations: Tradeco, Jammu & Kashmir State Power Transmission Company Limited (SPTCL), Distribution Company Limited, and Kashmir Power Distribution Company Limited.
This move is aimed at reducing power losses, providing financial autonomy, and bringing accountability and transparency. It will also help in reducing the power revenue deficit that state faces due to less electricity tariff. About Rs 4000 crore has to be spend by the state from different coffers to meet the power expenditure demand in addition to the power tariff it collect from people.
The Tradeco, which has already been registered, would deal with purchase and selling of energy to consumers, and once it becomes operational, the Commercial and Survey (C&S) wing of the PDD would stop operations. Its powers and human resource would be shifted to the new company under restructuring and unbundling program of the PDD. The PDD’s administrative head would be the chairman of the new company while its chief engineer would act as its managing director.
However, the trade bodies said, these moves are aimed at “disempowering people of the Kashmir, and not for their benefit”.
“I am a Kashmiri who has to live here. My income is not enough to pay the exorbitant bills. What state goes through to maintain balance between power purchase expenditure and revenue generation gap is their issue. What about ours who do not have the power to pay? We won’t allow privatisation at any cost,” he added.