Power dept appeals to public to minimise use of heavy appliances
Srinagar: At the onset of every winter, Kashmiris brace for long, harsh, scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. This year, though, such power cuts may prove fatal for Covid-19 patients who are on oxygen support at their homes.
The Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited, earlier this week, announced the power curtailment schedule in Kashmir valley. According to it, metered areas will face a power cut of 3 hours every day while non-metered areas will witness 4 hours of power cut in a day.
However, like every year, people in Kashmir know and complain that the power department is not providing electricity according to its own schedule, and power cuts much longer than the curtailment schedule are already being reported.
“My aged father is Covid positive and doctors have advised us to put him on oxygen support using an oxygen concentrator at our home. Unfortunately, unscheduled power cuts often render the machine useless. This is posing a grave risk to his life and those of other Covid patients. If things continue to remain so, it can prove disastrous,” said Waseem Ahmad, a resident of Brein Nishat in Srinagar.
He added that the power cuts will force critical Covid patients to remain at hospitals in order to prevent any risk of disruption of oxygen supply.
The kin of another critical Covid-19 patient in Srinagar told Kashmir Reader that the power department has started to flout its own schedule, as usual.
“Winter has arrived and we’re all in the familiar mess. But this year our elderly family members are at grave risk. We need regular supply of electricity as our Covid-19 patients are on oxygen concentrator support,” he said.
“People need to look for alternatives keeping in view the upcoming winter. We can’t remain totally dependent on electricity here, so I’ve kept an oxygen cylinder as a back-up at my home and make use of it as the situation arises,” he added.
People living in far-flung areas and towns are the worst-hit as they face the double whammy of scheduled as well as unscheduled power cuts. There is widespread sense of fear among families of Covid patients who are on support of oxygen concentrators. Several people have turned to other alternatives available in the market.
“Oxygen concentrators that require electricity to run will almost become useless in winter. Most people now are looking for oxygen cylinders that do not require electric supply,” said Fayaz Ahmad, a medical shop owner in Anantnag.
However, he added, some patients are unable to get such oxygen cylinders due to the rising demand and the resultant shortage in the market.
“With the onset of winter, the demand for oxygen concentrators has gone down while as the demand for oxygen cylinders has gone up,” he said.
In certain areas of Anantnag, including Verinag, Dooru and Kokernag, the people hardly receive a few hours of electricity during the day. Some residents of these areas have even turned to generators to provide for power for oxygen concentrators.
“The erratic power supply is really giving a tough time to us as we have to desperately look for alternatives in the market. For a home with a critical Covid patient, two things are most important: an oxygen cylinder and a generator,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of Verinag.
A resident of Bandipora village in north Kashmir also echoed the same concerns. “It seems that the pandemic is yet to afflict us badly, and we’re going to witness it this winter due to the power shortage,” he said.
Chief Engineer at the Power Development Department, Aijaz Ahmad Dar, said that the department is strictly adhering to the recently announced curtailment schedule all through Srinagar city, keeping in view the Covid-19 pandemic and its requirements.
“We’re currently having a deficiency of only 10% electric supply in Srinagar city, and we’re trying to manage that with least power cuts. Against the requirements of 630 MW, the department is supplying about 570 MW, falling short of a very little margin. We’re taking care of critical patients by ensuring ample power supply,” he said.
“If some areas in the city face any unscheduled cuts, it is due to load shedding and faults caused by use of blowers and other heavy appliances. The trip at the power grid station gets down on its own after sensing the overload, leading to a power cut,” he said.
On complaints of prolonged power cuts in south and north Kashmir, Dar said that the department is providing about 15 hours of power supply during the day.
He added that many areas outside Srinagar city are not officially registered as metered areas.
“The department is providing about 15 hours of power supply in all other areas. There are many areas in south and north which are not officially registered as metered with the department. There can be certain other reasons, too. Sometimes the overload acts as a deterrent for supplying more power, to prevent any major disruption,” he said.
Dar assured that he’ll personally look into the issue of electricity requirements for Covid patients, and assured that the department will take action if such consumers lodge complaints.
He appealed to the general public to act responsibly and save electricity for the sake of Covid patients who require oxygen support.
“Families with critical patients at their home should minimise the use of blowers and other large appliances. Their neighbours and the entire society needs to act in the same way. Covid can come to anyone any time. This will prevent overload and ultimately lead to regular electric supply throughout the winter,” Dar said.