Valley gropes in darkness

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Despite the claims made by the UT administration regarding ensuring hassle-free power supply in the winter months, Kashmir Valley is already groping in darkness. Though still in early days of November, the power supply scenario has turned ugly in the length and breadth of the Valley. Almost all the localities in capital city of Srinagar are witnessing unscheduled and unannounced power outages. While writing these lines, the electricity went off thrice in a span of one hour that too in the so-called posh area of Jawahar Nagar. Reports pouring in from other Srinagar areas suggest the same and candle-light dinners, in freezing cold are becoming norm these days. Worst is the condition in rural areas of Kashmir which are rarely witnessing any glimpse of electricity. Reports pouring in from north, south and central Kashmir are as gloomy as the power supply scenario. In Tangmarg villages of Baramulla district, in 24 hours, the electricity is supplied hardly for eight hours. Same pathetic condition is being faced by villages in other areas. In most of the areas, the electric supply is so scarce, that even inverters for power-back-up are not getting properly charged. People are wondering that if this the power situation in the month of November, how it is going to be in THE real winter.

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! Indeed it is difficult to find an equivalent to this kind of economic exploitation wherein the resources of a state are used to create something which is then sold back to the same state. 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. See the irony that this treaty has simply mortgaged state’s rights and interests for the sake of Punjab.

Though the administration has been repeatedly saying that it will ensure better power supply during winters, the ground situation is contrary to official claims. It is high time that the LG administration wakes to the ground situation and takes some concrete steps to stabilize the power supply in Kashmir Valley. Holding meetings regarding “winter preparedness” is okay, but to what extent the administration is ready to face and tackle the challenge of electricity is to be seen.

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