Work on power infrastructure going too slow for 2020 target

Work on power infrastructure going too slow for 2020 target
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SRINAGAR: The J&K government on Saturday made another tall claim when it said the power crisis in the state would be over by 2020. It won’t certainly happen until the Power Development Department (PDD), which supplies power to households, steps up pace on completing its infrastructure projects on time.
Kashmir Power crisis which mostly occurs due to the poor management of PDD is reflected at household level in the form of scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. They cuts which the Valley has bequeathed from the past exist because the demand of power has increased beyond the supplying capacity of the PDD. It manages supply in one area by cutting at another. Though the department can buy additional power, and also has transmission lines for getting energy from outside J&K, it has its bottlenecks at 220/132 kV grid Level, which it could not remove for many years now.
Had it completed the Alasteng grid station on time, one of the main reasons for the crisis that has been plagued with construction delays for seven years, the problem could have been managed easily.
Alasteng grid station is meant to connect Ladakh with Northern Grid as well as to increase the capacity of 220/132kV Sub-Station level. This, as per one of the engineers in PDD, could have managed to supply power with lesser cuts. But so far, it has missed four deadlines.
When the station was scheduled to start functioning, power demand was nearly 66 percent of what it is today. The grid station was envisaged to tackle a power load of 320MVA, which would have increased the current power handling capacity from around 1250 MWs to 1550MWs which is much more than the current 850 MW agreement between PDD and consumers. This could have shortened the cuts by many hours which are 6 hours in metered areas, and 8 in unmetered ones.
“When the grid does start functioning, the department can fetch supply as per the current demand. This was supposed to be met some years ago, but we are yet to do so,” said an engineer well acquainted with PDD’s functioning.
“If all goes well, the grid is scheduled to function early next year, which will solve the problem but only temporally. The department has to look out for the time when power demand will go beyond the supplying capacity of the department,” the engineer said.
Alasteng will majorly solve the problem of power shortage in central Kashmir, and also in Southern areas. But it may soon be obsolete when the demand goes up without the upgrading of grids. An engineer said that another 132 kV transmission line needs to be set up immediately from 220/132 kV Budgam Grid to 132/33 kVRawalpora Grid. He said this line, proposed some years ago, could not materialise because of technical issues. The work on this will take additional time as it is still going through the study phase.
“The area over which it has to be laid is densely congested, which is obstructing the use of overhead transmission. The alternative was to use cables, which is quite a task in itself, but cables cannot be used for long-distance transmission. The department has to resolve this problem immediately,” the engineer said.
Similarly, Delina grid stations have to be augmented to cater to north Kashmir. The PDD also has to complete a power grid station the foundation of which was laid ten years ago in Bandipora. The transmission line supposed to feed that grid is incomplete and prevents the supply of reliable power to households in that region.
“If the department gets these projects done by next year, then it can focus on future and prevent Kashmir from facing another power crisis,” the engineer said. “The punch line is that the department needs to keep pace of the distribution infrastructure with the going up of the electricity demand.”