Lakhs of people in snow-bound Doda, Kishtwar suffering badly for past 4 days

No specific time-frame for restoration of damaged power transmission line
Fate of alternate line hanging in balance during past many yrs
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 10: Lakhs of people in snow bound Doda and Kishtwar districts are suffering badly during the past four days as no major headway has been made by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in the restoration of damages to the only transmission line supplying power to these districts.
The 132-KV single circuit Udhampur-Kishtwar transmission line had suffered extensive damage at various places on the intervening night of February 6 and 7 due to massive snowfall as a result of which both the mountainous districts, which are provided electricity through this line only, plunged into complete darkness.
As per the reports, one tower between Udhampur-Doda and seven towers between Doda-Kishtwar have suffered extensive damages due to the massive snowfall and falling down of big trees on the transmission line.
“The restoration work on tower between Udhampur-Doda is going on in full swing but work on seven other towers has yet not picked up required momentum”, official sources privy to the status of restoration works told EXCELSIOR, adding “yesterday NHPC had conveyed to the Systems and Operations Wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Department that work on tower between Udhampur-Doda will most likely be completed by this evening but the Corporation has failed to fulfil its commitment”.
They further said, “now NHPC has conveyed that it will try its level best to ensure that work on this tower is completed by tomorrow evening”, adding “for restoration of damages to seven towers between Doda-Kishtwar the NHPC has given tentative time-frame of 3-4 days”.
All this clearly indicates that lakhs of people of twin mountainous districts will continue to suffer for some more days. As per the reports, the situation is worst for the people of those areas of these districts which have experienced heavy snow.
“Even communication link of vast areas of these districts with rest of the State has suffered badly as in the absence of power supply even the landline telephone exchanges are not functioning properly and people are finding it difficult to recharge the batteries of their cellular phones”, reports said.
“Cellular companies are keeping their network in functional mode by operating their towers, which run on diesel-operated generators, but people can avail the cellular services only when batteries of their mobile phones are charged, which is not possible due to complete darkness in these districts”, reports further said.
Notwithstanding the immense difficulties being faced by the people of these two districts, neither any decision has been taken on taking over of Udhampur-Kisthwar transmission line by the Power Development Department as desired by the NHPC from time to time nor work could be restarted on the alternate Batote-Thathri-Kishtwar transmission line, whose fate is hanging in balance during the past several years.
The 132 KV single circuit Udhampur-Kishtwar transmission line was constructed by NHPC during eighties in order to meet the electricity requirement in the construction of Dulhasti Hydroelectric Project in Kishtwar. Since the commissioning of the project most of the power transmitted through this line is being consumed in Doda and Kishtwar districts.
Since 2014 the NHPC has dashed numerous communications to the State Government with the request to take over this line especially when tariff for the power being supplied through this line and consumed by the people in both the districts is being charged by the State Government.
On August 23, 2018 NHPC Chief Engineer for Dul Hasti Project Yoginder Kotha had once again written to the State Government mentioning the urgency for taking over of this line by the JKPDD. “Head office of NHPC was not allowing deployment of manpower/ maintenance expenditure for this line which may result into decrease in the reliability of the line in the coming time resulting into disruption of the power supply to Doda and Kishtwar districts”, he had explicitly mentioned in the communication.
However, till date no decision has been taken by the State Government. “As of now we have not decided to take over the line”, said Commissioner Secretary to Government Power Development Department Hirdesh Kumar Singh. However, he failed to specify the reasons for the same.
About alternate Batote-Thathri-Kishtwar transmission line, he said, “the fate of the project is hanging in balance as the project executing company has gone in the arbitration against the decision of Finance Department, which had refused to permit cost escalation projected by the company”.
“We are trying to convince the arbitrator to allow us to restart the work on the abandoned line so that power supply related issue of Doda and Kishtwar districts is resolved once and for all”, he said.
However, when this development takes place remains a million dollar question.