Addl drawal fails to provide succor, protests continue
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, June 23: Notwithstanding additional drawal of electricity from Northern Grid on the directions of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, Power Development Department has failed to provide respite to the people from unscheduled and frequent power curtailments in Jammu as well as Kashmir valley.
The situation is more alarming in the Jammu region where Power Development Department has failed to provide uninterrupted power supply either during the day timing or night hours prompting the people to come on streets.
The state of affairs in the 100 per cent metered is not better than the non-metered areas as PDD has been resorting to power curtailments after every hour despite the fact that areas having all the connections metered are entitled for round-the-clock electricity supply. The situation is being compounded by the shut-downs being availed by the department for maintenance and repair works.
“We have failed to understand what improvement PDD has brought by borrowing additional electricity from the Northern Grid”, people said, adding “we are still facing the situation which was prevailing prior to the announcement of Chief Minister about according sanction to the PDD for getting more electricity from Northern Grid”.
“Even when the electricity supply is restored the voltage remains such a low that no electricity appliance is put to use”, they said, adding “fluctuation is also compounding our problems and pose a risk of getting the gadgets burnt”.
When contacted, Chief Engineer, M&RE Jammu, Shahnaz Goni attributed the frequent power cuts to the warnings from the Northern Region Load Dispatch Centre and State Load Dispatch Centre about keeping loads within stipulated limits especially under low frequency conditions.
“People are also responsible for the curtailments as they are not budging from overloading the system by increasing the use of gadgets particularly Air Conditioners”, she said while claiming that about 15 to 20 lakh units of additional power is being taken from the Northern Grid every day but despite this each and every station continued to be over-loaded.
Our Srinagar Correspondent adds:
For the first time in Kashmir valley, the winter power curtailment schedule is being followed in summer as well with additional unscheduled and frequent power cuts irking the people.
The non-metered areas across Kashmir valley are witnessing 84 hours of weekly scheduled power cuts besides several more hours of un-scheduled power cuts. While in metered areas, the situation is no different as PDD resorts to unscheduled cuts in these areas as well.
The PDD sources said that they have resorted to around 2-3 daily unscheduled power cuts in non-metered areas and one hour daily power cut in metered areas of Kashmir valley.
The non-metered areas are having same curtailment schedule that was issued by the PDD in last December during the peak winter. In the non-metered areas there are 3 evening and two nightlong cuts during a week while the metered areas have one evening cut and three day cuts in a week.
Chief Engineer PDD Muzaffar Ahmad Mattoo admitted that PDD is going for extra curtailment. “We resort to distress curtailment as per the requirement and this is primarily due to reduction of electricity production across the country and decrease in generation of electricity by local power houses. For the past few days we have gone for 40 minute to one hour power cuts”, he added.
In several areas people over the last few days held protest demonstration against the Power Development Department (PDD) these power cuts. In Rajouri Kadal area of the old city people in hundreds today poured out in streets and blocked the main road to protest unscheduled and frequent power cuts in the area. The traffic remained suspended for several hours. However, it was later resumed in the afternoon.
The old city in Srinagar and the rural areas of Kashmir are worst affected by the power cuts. Residents said that in these areas the unscheduled cuts are more frequent.
Protests were also held at Panzgam, Manzgam and Chowkibal in the frontier district of Kupwara against the PDD. There are reports of similar protests from Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama villages against the PDD.
It may be mentioned here that the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, only yesterday asked the people to pay market price for electricity or face load shedding. “I’ve been very transparent about the power situation in the State. The 70 percent loss/theft situation is unsustainable, so load shedding happens,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday. “Power in JK is the second cheapest in the country after Sikkim. How about all of you, complaining about load-shedding, start paying market price,” he added.
The traders and hoteliers have reacted strongly to Chief Minister’s statement and on the frequent power cuts. The chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance, Mohammad Yasin Khan said that it is unfortunate that the CM is passing his failures to the common people. “The State Government has failed to reduce Transmission and Distribution losses and it is blaming common people. His Government has failed to prevent power thefts and he is blaming the common people.”
Yasin Tuman, the Managing Director of the Mascot Travels said that on one hand Government is claiming tourism boom while on the other hand it was resorting to massive power cuts. Unless and until Government provides the basic facilities tourism industry won’t grow here, he adds.