Pesky Power Cuts

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“Yes, it’s true Kashmir has a potential to generate thousands of megawatts of electricity, only when we have good water available in the rivers and streams. This time it’s different as water has reached at its lowest discharge,”

Imtiyaz Wani

As the Kashmir has a potential of producing some 20,000 megawatts of electricity from its water resources, the Valley is reeling under power crisis and generation has reduced to only one hundred megawatts. Reason, the water level in rivers, streams have gone down to all time low due to the severe cold and ongoing dry spell.

The erratic power supply has now forced residents to lodge protest with the department and everyday there are complaints pouring in against the department failing to stick to its original curtailment schedule.

Though urban areas of the Valley, especially summer capital Srinagar has somehow slight better power supply, however when it comes to rural areas, the power supply is not only erratic, but officials are always looking for an alibi to snap the power supply lines.

“This is very tough time for us,” says a senior Power Development Department officer while describing the current state of power supply in the Valley. “We are trying to make supply of power in the Valley regular, but over loading is becoming a big problem” he said.

Valley’s top state owned power house in Uri, Lower Jehlum Hydel Project (LJHP) that used to generate 100 megawatts of power has very low generation and due to low discharge, the power supply has fallen below 20 megawatts.

“This time LJHP only generates, 20 megawatts, incase the situation remains same the generation will further come down,” the officer said.

From past three months, the Valley didn’t receive any significant amount of rains, compared to 100-120 megawatts of electricity the Valley just received 5 mm of rains.

Though, MET department has predicted the rainfall after many months of dry spell, however, the showers lasted for few hours and didn’t end the dry spell, neither these rains helped in raising the water level in rivers and streams.

PDD officials said the generation capacity of other hydel projects that are located on various streams and rivers is similar to the LJHP as the water level has gone down due to the ongoing dry spell. “We are getting most of our power through Northern Grid and other states,” the officer said adding that after every passing day the condition of power generation gets worse.

Even the PDD has failed to upgrade its system and due to non installation of transmission lines, the department couldn’t even procure the required amount of power from the northern grid. Neither, transmission line between Kashmir and Kargil has been completed so that surplus power generated from a power house could be connected with the Valley’s grid.

Sources in the PDD said that in summers around 1000 to 1200 megawatts of power are generated in Kashmir only, however, this time the situation is very different for the PDD. Compared to demand of 1200 megawatts, the availability through local generation is less than 200 megawatts which is giving tough time to the PDD officials who are under pressure from government for maintaining power supply in the Valley.

Officials claim that Kashmir has a potential of producing some 20,000 megawatts of electricity from its water resources. However, this time is different as water resources are not even sufficient to generate few hundred megawatts of power.

“Yes, it’s true Kashmir has a potential to generate thousands of megawatts of electricity, only when we have good water available in the rivers and streams. This time it’s different as water has reached at its lowest discharge,” said one of the former Chief Engineer’s of the J&KPDD.

“Presently, purchase of power is the only solution to overcome this crisis. I am sure if the dry spell will continue the power supply will further go down.”

Locals are irked over the erratic power supply, especially residents of those areas where electric meters were installed with a promise of round the clock power supply. “Where is power, even department is unable to supply power to us for six hours a day,” said Bashir Ahmad who lives on the outskirts of the city.

He said that PDD has cheated them by making false promises. “We are getting electricity for only few hours that has caused lot of problems.’’ Even some locals have asked government to overcome this crisis they should start gas turbines at Pampore, however, officials termed the gas turbines as white elephant. ‘’The government should run gas turbine, to improve the power supply in Valley if they really care for the masses,’’ said Abdul Qayoom a resident of Verinag.

He claimed that his area is witnessing power cuts after every 15 minutes. Recently, to save the electricity and its misuse, the government has banned sale and purchase of electric heaters and boilers, according to officials, these gadgets are consuming lot of electricity, especially in winters when state is facing shortage of power. Many, however, termed this as a draconian diktat aimed to target poor section of the society.

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