Inefficiency, policy paralysis in previous Govts caused enormous losses in power sector

Kishtwar, Gurez worst sufferers; couldn’t exploit power potential

Only CPSUs capable to undertake projects, transmission lines

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Aug 7: Due to lack of foresightedness, policy paralysis and inefficiency of previous Governments in Jammu and Kashmir, several power projects, transmission lines etc sanctioned worth hundreds of crores couldn’t be completed for many years and funds were surrendered in some cases causing enormous loss not only to the erstwhile State and present Union Territory but also to the local people.
Record and data available with the Excelsior showed that four transmission lines for Kishtwar were approved under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP)-2004 at a cost of Rs 35 crore but the JKPTCL couldn’t complete them including 132 KV Ramban to Khellani to Kishtwar in last 18 years.
“The line went into arbitration with Turn Key Contractor, KEC while other lines have been handed over to PGCIL for completion, ” sources said.
Kishtwar has immense power potential because of river Chenab.
“Though being hub of power generation, the JKPTCL and subsequent Governments since 2004 denied power to Kishtwar district as well as the people living there,” sources said describing it as major failure of previous Governments in Jammu and Kashmir which were at the helm of affairs.
They pointed out that power supply to Kishtwar is being fed through Single Circuit 132 KV line construction by NHPC for providing construction power to Dulhasti Hydro Electric Project. The line has a capacity of just 80 MW while demand of the area is 140 MW.
This way, sources said, people of Kishtwar are suffering for want of reliable power over last two decades. Moreover, whenever a fault occurs on the single circuit there is no another circuit to feed the area, they said.
They added that the JKPDD has decided to construct 400/132 KV Sub Station at Kishtwar under TBCB mode, which will get supply for existing 400 KV Dulhasti Kishenpore line and feed some present and upcoming load in the area.
Though questions are also being raised about Central Public Sector Undertakings as Project Management Agencies, only they are capable to handle the projects and JPDCL and KPDCL in J&K have shown complete incompetence in handing the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (RAPDRP) which was sanctioned in 2011 at an estimated cost of Rs 1648 crore.
“This was a reform scheme to contain AT&C losses. Over last 11 years, the previous dispensations could spend only Rs 929 crore and that too under the supervision of PMAs including Feedback Infra in Kashmir and Louis Berger in Jammu. CPSUs were not engaged as PIAs for this scheme. The expenditure booked was less than Rs 90 crore per annum. Due to failure of the Discoms to complete the scheme in time, the previous Governments lost thousands of crores each year on account of huge AT&C losses,” sources said.
They noted that given previous track record in completing the project, it is impossible to expect from them to handle and complete Rs 2800 crore worth projects in each division in time bound manner.
Similarly, as per the sources, a proposal to construct 33 KV Line from Bandipora to Gurez in the Kashmir valley was sanctioned under DDUGJY/IPDS in 2015-16 but the then Government and Distribution Wing of KPDCL failed to construct the proposed line for Gurez and the scheme was short closed.
According to sources, a DPR amounting to Rs 160 crore for providing reliable power supply to Gurez Valley was prepared in 2018 and recommended by the then Governor and endorsed by the JKPDD from time to time, but it still awaits funding.
The proposed line will pass over Razdan Top where 10 feet to 20 feet snowfall is experienced during winters and the PDD lacks resources as well as expertise to maintain line at such high altitude and heavy snow zone.
“The Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) have the capability to handle such projects. Moreover Union Power Minister RK Singh has been taking personal interest in harnessing power potential in Jammu and Kashmir,” sources said.
They said that meagre power supply for LED lighting for 5/7 hours is being provided to consumers through DG sets in Gurez.
They added that a unit of power costs around Rs 30 to JKPDD against Rs 3.75 from other grid connected sources. The per capita consumption in Gurez is less than 100 units against more than 1400 units in rest of J&K, which shows poor state of affairs in Gurez for last several years.
Present dispensation, however, took up the issue with RK Singh in October last year after which the Minister announced a comprehensive investment plan of Rs 4971 crore in transmission sector as proposed by the JKPDD.
Singh reiterated his commitment to provide full support to J&K under various schemes in Transmission and Distribution sector and advised the department to examine various options including Tariff-Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) mechanism as provided under Sections 63/62 of the Electricity Act 2003.
The PDD has now proposed Bandipora-Gurez line under Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS). Subsequently, Ministry of Power has devised guidelines and draft tender documents for TBCB mode of funding and issued number of advisories to States and UTs to take up transmission works under TBCB mode.
As far as Srinagar City was concerned, sources said Rs 650 crore sanctioned for the City was partly spent and rest of the money was surrendered without any results. It was only after this massive failure that PGCIL and RECPDCL were invited to support the Discoms and provide some works under DDUFJY, IPDS and PMDP.
Further, out of 210 feeders in Srinagar city, not a single was completed to avoid hooking by providing AB cabling and HVDS. The scheme was short closed and as far as Srinagar is concerned there was zero achievement.
“These works have been successfully completed by and large. We don’t see distribution wing of Corporations handling the work of RDSS keeping in view the past experience,” sources said.
They added that Kishtwar and Gurez have massive tourism potential but they couldn’t exploit it due to underdevelopment and neglect causing irreversible damage to the local economy.
“Electricity is one of the primary needs of a society and essential for overall development of a region. Gurez and Kishtwar, however, don’t have access to grid connected electricity,” sources pointed out.