Tackling issue of power supply

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Though the Chillai-Kalan, the 40-day long period of extreme cold, is yet to come, the Kashmir Valley is already shivering with mercury dipping below zero all over. Add to the miseries are the frequent power cuts which are worst in rural areas. Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) has already announced a curtailment schedule across the Valley —in Srinagar, for example, 1.5 hours power cut in a day in metered areas, and 3 hours in non-metered areas. However, all the areas face frequent power breakdowns beyond the limits of announced ‘power curtailment schedule’. The officials express their helplessness. They say, on one hand, J&K’s own power generation capacity depletes to the lowest (from 1200 MW to 200-300 MW) in winters because of the decrease in water level in the rivers and, on the other hand, demand rises exponentially because people use blowers, heaters, geysers, and other electric devices during this season. As per authorities, Jammu and Kashmir this year met with the peak demand on November 14 when 2405 megawatt power was supplied across J&K —1565 megawatt to the Valley and 840 megawatt to Jammu.  Of this, 2161 mega watt was imported from outside, the Northern Regional Load Despatch Center (NRLDC) while as the own sources supported only with 244 megawatts of power. In harsh winter days, our power generation capacity depletes up to 150 megawatt in Jammu and 60 megawatt in the Valley; and, eventually the government is forced to import the energy throughout the winters, which comes on a huge cost. However, as per experts J&K is unable to import the energy from outside as per the exact demand because the UT lacks the infrastructure —in terms of receiving stations, sufficient 220/132 KV substations, transmission corridors, and regional supply. Jammu and Kashmir loses a large quantity of electricity because of inadequate infrastructure and faulty transmission lines.

The other chronic problem that adds to the power woes is the misuse of energy. A large-scale power theft and misuse by the consumers, including government departments and security forces worsens the situation further. While as the government has to have a long term strategy to overcome the crisis and make sure that both Jammu and Kashmir gets sufficient power supply, particularly Jammu in Summers and Kashmir in Winters, the consumers too have to shoulder the responsibility. The consumers have to use the energy judiciously and people have to say no to power thefts. People have to ensure that they pay for all the units of the energy they use thus minimizing the losses that are being faced by the UT. Government, on its part should focus on infrastructure development and take steps to minimize the transmission, distribution, and commercial losses (T, D & C). Experts say that J&K records 65–70 percent transmission, distribution, and commercial losses which is many times higher than in any other part of the world. The national average in India is 20% and J&K is more than three times that figure. These high losses leave the government with little money to buy energy from the market to meet the increasing demand resulting in severe energy crises during the winter season.

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