Will there be a day when we in J&K shall have the luxury of supply of electric power without interruption round the clock and of reasonably good voltage. The answer is mystifying. State’s power deficiency and erratic supply have become proverbial. The Finance Minister in his power budget speech said that investment in various power generating projects has become like water over duck back. There is no death of mind boggling figures brought out by power authorities including the Minister in charge of power pertaining to financial investments made in major as well as minor power projects in the State. One can name at least a dozen of them in line. However, no official in the hierarchal structure of PDD is able to pronounce the time frame of these projects. The only reason given by the Power Department for a big gap between supply and consumption is that either there is pilferage on very wide scale or there is transmission problem.
Singing the tune of his predecessors, Dr, Nirmal Singh, the Deputy Chief Minister and In-charge of Power Department, exuded the dream of the State having large scale water resources capable of producing 20,000 MW of hydroelectric power which would not only meet our 24×7 requirement but we would also be left with surplus to sell to other states. It is a soothing dream and there is hardly a person who is not swayed by imaginary prosperity that is going to befall our people in the State.
The reality is that we have been able to harness only 3263 Mega Watt till date. This is barely one-sixth of production that we enjoy. We vainly wish that our State so rich in water resources could have the good luck of making this vast resource useful to our people. If previous regimes have not been able to make any headway in this direction, the PDP-BJP coalition, too, has not fared better. We know that this time FM presented separate power budget in the Legislative Assembly and follow up action is promised, yet the bare fact is that he, too, has not been forthcoming on the question of time frame for each project. There may be cogent reasons for not disclosing the time frame but it is this component that is dearer to ordinary consumer. Though he made mention about the plans of tapping 8917 Mega Watts in future by JKSPDC, NHPC, Chenab Valley Power Projects Ltd (CVPPL), which is a joint venture between JKSPDC, NHPC and PTC, in the ratio of 49:49:2, yet he failed to specify any time-frame for the same. He simply mentioned that under State Sector 23 projects with the capacity of 3867 Mega Watts will be constructed and under Joint Venture mode, four projects with the installed capacity of 2714 Mega Watts will be constructed. Similarly, he informed the House that 2 projects with capacity of 1130 Mega Watts, one project with 850 Mega Watts and 34 small projects with installed capacity of 356 Mega Watts have been planned to be constructed. The Deputy Prime Minister, Dr, Nirmal Singh expressed hope that the day was not far away when the State would become self sufficient in power because, as he said, big and small projects for gendering units were in the process of completion. It is true that many projects are in the process the point is when would these be available for use. Indefinite delay dampens the spirit and escalates construction cost.
PDD’s lethargic in regard to harnessing solar power, too, has biome a joke of the day. The Minister In-charge Power also admitted failure of the Government to tap solar power potential, which has been assessed at 111 GW by the National Institute of Solar Energy. Inability of the Government to avail benefit of available solar power was exclusively highlighted by EXCELSIOR in its edition dated December 17, 2016. Great media hype was given to Leh as having considerable potential for the use of solar energy but when the cost of generating solar power was found to be exorbitant, the plan was put in cold store. Now, according to the statement of the Minister given on the floor of the House, the State PDD is approaching the Union Ministry of Renewable Energy for support in production of solar power in the State. The hard fact is that harnessing of solar energy in our State seems to be a distant dream and that is not going to give the people any consolation. The Minister has no alternative but to impress upon the PDD that expediting power generation capacity is the only and most important activity that must be pursued and brought to its logical conclusion.