Tackling electric power crisis

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While Union Territory administration has been assuring people in Kashmir that this winter they should expect comfortable supply of electricity, reports reaching from rural areas are disturbing. The concerned department has already issued load-shedding programme for both metered and un-metered areas. Though in some Srinagar localities, the schedule is followed, in rural areas, even the metered areas face power cuts like the un-metered areas. While the administration at the top is convinced that there has been some improvement of power supply front but it seems they are being fed lies by the concerned authorities who are hiding their inefficiencies. Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha has been interacting with the people through a radio programme wherein people apprise him of their issues and concerns. It would be prudent that the next such programme focuses on the issue of power supply and people from cross section of the society are allowed to participate and present the actual power scenario to the LG.

It is appreciable that the UT administration has been making efforts to ensure the efficiency of power supply and has been trying to minimise Aggregate Technical and Commercial losses, it still remains the highest in the entire country. In simple terms, Jammu and Kashmir is suffering a huge gap in the energy it puts into the system and the revenue (payment) it collects for this energy.According to the data by the Ministry of Power, Government of India, the former state had 60.46 percent AT&C losses in 2019-20. The losses are highest in entire India where the average losses in this category are 22 percent.Over the years thousands of crores of rupees have been spent in overhauling the transmission and destruction infrastructure besides taking to technical up-gradation by the J&K Power Development Department. The end results are however appalling.

In 2008, the then state embarked up on a Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) with Rs 872.36 crore aimed at strengthening and up-gradation of sub-transmission and distribution network and adoption of Information Technology.The ambitious programme targeted at reducing the losses to three percent per annum and bringing them to 15 percent within five years.In 2011, Rs 1700 crores were sanctioned for bettering the system in 30 towns and cities under the programme. “The financial support has been squandered.” Dysfunctional meters worth crores of rupees were purchased under the scheme and dumped later on that speak of corruption in purchase of other materials and supplies under the multi-crore projects.Even with a huge financial input, the revamp and modernization of the electricity distribution system is not visible. The target of 100 percent metering of domestic consumers has also not been met and there are thousands of unregistered consumers using electricity in connivance with the PDD officials as the money for infrastructure and technical up-gradation has been “flowing like water under a bridge”.

Rs 617 crores were approved by the central government in 2015-16 under Deendayal Upadhaya Gram Jyoti Yojana. The money had been granted for strengthening and augmenting the sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas.Likewise, sub-stations were to be created at 33/11 kV, 11/.433 kV levels, besides extension of HT Lines and AB cables under the Integrated Power Development Scheme at a cost of Rs 242 crores.Rs 966 crores were also provided under the Prime Minister’s Development Plan for rural and urban areas. The money had been allocated for creation of new 33/11 kV sub-stations, augmentation of existing sub-stations, extensions of HT and LT lines and capacity at distribution level.But the ground situation is that a mesh of decayed electric wires and poles dangle over the heads everywhere in the towns and the villages and the average power supply continues to be dismal in the chilling winters.

It is high time that the UT administration looks into these issues seriously and comes up with a long term strategy to ensure that Kashmir gets sufficient power supply during winters and Jammu during summers.

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