Unscheduled power cuts
In an unprecedented move, State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has issued a notice to Chief Engineer Power Development Department (PDD) for resorting to unscheduled power cuts both in metered and non-metered areas and for irregular power supply as winter sets in. The SHRC has sought a report from the Chief Engineer within a week’s time. The chief engineer has been asked to submit a report as to why power cuts are effected even without a notice. Following the untimely snowfall on November 03, the power supply to entire Valley was impacted badly. Though, restoration works in most parts of the Valley has been done but still in both urban as well as rural metered and non-metered areas erratic power outages are being witnessed. It is in this backdrop that SHRC has issued notice to PDD department. Come winter, the power problems are making a steady return to haunt the people here. Hours-long daily power-cuts in the metered areas of the city are back, and the situation in non-metered areas besides in the countryside is obviously much worse. And indeed if the current discharge in various rivers of the state is taken as indicator, then the situation in coming days is only going to worsen further.
We the people of Jammu and Kashmir have, for decades been told that the state has enormous water resources, which, if harnessed for generating electricity, can make it one of the richest places in the entire subcontinent. However, its potential to generate more than 20000 MWs of hydroelectricity notwithstanding, power shortage has always remained a perennial problem here. Blame it on the jaundiced vision of the successive governments in New Delhi and Srinagar, as well as due to the lethargy of the executing agencies vested with the construction of power projects in the state, this vital sector has not been optimally used so far. And whatever generation capacity has been installed in the state too has been mortgaged to the various Central agencies, NHPC in particular. Isn’t it an irony that these agencies take away power from Jammu and Kashmir and then sell back same to it on exorbitant rates?
Then there is Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 between India and Pakistan, which is discriminatory to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. While this treaty does not allow the state to utilize its main rivers Chenab, Jehlum and Indus, it is because of this treaty that the north Indian state of Punjab has exclusive rights over the waters of Satluj, Beas and Ravi. Politics aside, Jammu and Kashmir has remained a disadvantaged state as for the development of power sector is concerned.
The state government (read Governor’s administration), which is vocal about bringing peace here through progress and development, must start pressing New Delhi to wake up to the power needs of the state. Be it seeking compensation on account of the losses brought about by the Indus Waters Treaty or for that matter providing counter-guarantees to the projects that could attract foreign investment, or transfer of projects to the state which have already earned more for the NHPC than what the corporation had invested in them, it is time that government starts demanding J&K’s share and due. Irrespective of how much is invested in other sectors of economy, it remains an indisputable conclusion that all-round progress of the state and prosperity of its people is impossible unless the power sector is made into the super-engine of J&K’s development.