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Ahead of harsh winter, Kashmir faces chaotic power supply

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Srinagar: As Kashmir Valley is facing the worst power crisis ahead of harsh winter, the government today issued strict directions to KPDCL, saying that no unscheduled power cuts shall be tolerated.

Sometime back, the concerned authorities issued a load-shedding schedule for both metered as well as non-metered areas. However, reports pouring in from the length and breadth of the Valley suggest that the scenario on the ground is contrary to official claims. 

“The authorities had claimed that in metered areas, there would be only a four-hour power cut. We have smart meters installed here and have shifted to the pre-paid mode of paying the dues. Still, we get power just for 12 to 15 hours in 24 hours,” said a consumer from the Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar.

The situation in metered areas in rural Kashmir is also worse. The consumers there get the supply for 10 to 12 hours while in non-metered areas 8 hour supply in 24 hours is a luxury, reports suggest. 

Meanwhile. while chairing a meeting, Principal Secretary, the Power Development Department (PDD), H. Rajesh Prasad reviewed the power supply position in J&K, particularly in Kashmir valley amid decreasing temperatures, during a meeting held with the Managing Directors of Corporations and all Chief Engineers and senior officers of the department.

During the review, it was informed that a curtailment schedule has been prepared based on the power availability in the region.

Accordingly, the Principal Secretary asked the engineers to strictly follow the schedule, emphasizing that no unscheduled power cuts shall be tolerated. He also stressed that under no circumstances should J&K engage in overdraw of power, which is important not only to stay within the budget but also to uphold grid discipline and prevent unwarranted disruptions in power supply.

It was further highlighted that sufficient infrastructure has been created in recent years to improve the quality of power supply in the region. Additionally, J&K has availed loans under various Government of India schemes such as Atmanirbhar Bharat and LPS Rules, whereby all outstanding dues of power generators accumulated over the years have been cleared. However, under the schemes J&K has committed to the GoI that the losses shall be reduced to a minimum to ensure the viability of the sector.

In line with the commitment to reduce the losses, the Principal Secretary issued explicit instructions to the engineers to put an all-out effort to eradicate the menace of power pilferage by adopting stringent enforcement measures.

He asked to maintain regular power supply in areas where people are regularly paying for their consumption, whereas in high-loss areas, measures like metering and AB cabling be taken on priority.

Despite these official claims, the consumers are suffering as there is no explanation from the concerned authorities regarding unscheduled power cuts.

Meanwhile, the erratic power supply is hitting the industrial sector of the valley, leading to a staggering 75% decline in production, claim industrialists.

The valley for more than a month has been witnessing a power crisis, which has affected both domestic as well as commercial consumers.

Shahid Kamili, president Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir told news agency KNO, that the current power scenario has escalated the loss of industrialists.

“The impact of the current power scenario on the industrial sector is beyond imagination. We have limited hours of work during winter seasons and the absence of electricity is complicating our problems,” he said.

While Kamli said that 75 percent decline in production is reported by the industrial sector, he added many industries are on the verge of turning into Non-Performing Assets.

“When there is no output, the industries won’t bear the shock of reporting spontaneous losses. The industrialists are working on cost-competitiveness. The industrialists are failing to manage instalments for loans,” he said.

Giving an example of sawmills, Kamli said more than 500 such units are currently affected in the valley. “We have almost 500 sawmills registered with the federation. We often hear about the losses being faced by them. Apart from these industries, we have many units including cold storage, diagnostics and others which also report heavy losses,” he said.

The industries that, as per Kamli are majorly hit include cold storage, apple grading and packaging industries and furniture industries.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) said they regularly get SoS calls from various industries that suffer due to the lack of proper power supply.

“From hospitality to cottage industries, the power situation has deeply affected the service sector. Neither industrialists nor small traders are able to manage their business due to the unscheduled power cuts,” said Secretary General KCCI Faiz Ahmad Bakshi.

He said they are now seeking intervention from Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha regarding the issue.

“Every sector is suffering. We seek the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to improve the power situation in Kashmir,” Bakshi said.  

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