Kashmir faces power outages before onset of winter

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, Oct 26: Residents in Kashmir are facing sporadic power outages as there are unscheduled power cuts by the Power Development Department (PDD) as winter is yet to set in.
Residents in metered and non-metered areas have complained about frequent power outages, accusing the PDD, which is responsible for the transmission and distribution of electricity in the Valley, of failing to provide adequate power.
The PDD, on the other hand, says that as the temperature dropped, energy demand increase, resulting in overloading and power outages. “With the colder weather, most households are turning to electric blowers, power blankets, heaters, geysers, and other warming devices,” a PDD official said. “This has resulted in a spike in demand and overloading, forcing the department to resort to unscheduled power cuts”, he added.
Chief Engineer of the PDD, Aijaz Ahmad, said that power cuts would not be necessary if people use electricity judiciously. “We are dealing with an overload problem primarily in non-metered areas, where demand has multiplied many times since last month”, he added.
He said that they are currently not enforcing the curtailment schedule and instead are monitoring the situation. “We have prepared a curtailment programme, but we are not enforcing it. If people cooperate with us and use electricity judiciously this winter, we would not have to enforce it,” he said, adding that the irresponsible behavior from people forces them to resort to power cuts.
Every year, as winter approaches, the PDD issues a curtailment to strike a balance between supply and demand. With varying curtailment hours, the areas are divided into metered and non-metered areas.
Every year, according to PDD, the Valley faces an electricity deficiency of around 800 MWs because only 1300 MWs of electricity is available against a demand of around 2100-2200 MWs, resulting in a deficiency of around 800 MWs.
“In winter, there is an additional 100 MWs of demand, which adds to the deficit. Curtailment is extremely difficult for an electrical engineer to plan. When demand increases, supply suffers because only 1300 MWs are available,” an official said.
Despite the fact that the department is yet to decide whether or not to implement the curtailment schedule, people across the Valley are experiencing power outages. Residents said that power outages have worsened in recent weeks, forcing them to spend the majority of their time in the dark.
“The power situation has deteriorated over the last few days. Yesterday, we had electricity for a total of two hours. We are having a lot of problems right now. What will the situation be like in rural areas if this is the situation in towns?”, Sameer Ahmad, a resident of Lal Chowk Anantnag, asked.
Power outages have become a source of concern for students whose exams are approaching and their studies are being hampered by frequent power outages. “The power outages are cause of concern because they are interfering with our studies. Preparing without electricity is extremely difficult. The drop in temperature has exacerbated our situation,” Ryan Aziz, a student from the Pampore area of South Kashmir, told Excelsior.
Locals in Pulwama have also expressed their displeasure with the power outages, claiming that they are forced to spend the majority of their time in the dark because “electricity plays hide and seek in our village”. “We have power for an hour before being cut off for two hours. This is how we spend the majority of our time these days,” said Imran Ahmad, a Pulwama resident.
He said that the patients who are on oxygen support rely on electricity and are the worst sufferers. “The COVID hasn’t ended yet, and some people are still on oxygen support, but the machines run on electricity,” he said.