Making Jammu and Kashmir ‘Power Surplus’

It is no denying the fact that on several occasions in the past , assurances were given that not only would Jammu and Kashmir be rid of power shortage and become self-sufficient but there would be enough power generated to export to earn revenue in good measure. Since the UT is blessed with two natural boons – that of enough water resources for generating eco-friendly hydro-electric power and enough tourist spots for promoting tourism as the main industry sustaining the economy – with proper and adequate investment for harnessing these natural resources especially that of water for producing electricity backed by planning , relevant expertise and a robust infrastructure, the UT could generate enough power and to spare. It is also not denying the fact that many power projects , small, medium and of national level importance, have been set up and also presently work on them is going on like on 1000 MW Pakal Dul, expected to be the largest hydroelectric power project in Jammu and Kashmir after its completion , 850 MW Ratle power project – both run of the river projects going to change the power scenario in a significant way in the UT. We have also strategically important Ujh Hydroelectric power project with lot of hopes and on its completion , lead Jammu and Kashmir towards self-sufficiency in generation of power.
Not that attention was not paid towards realising the importance of power for economic development in the past several years , progress and for generating employment opportunities but the focus largely was on how to bridge the yawning gap between increasing demand and limited supply which was getting accentuated during winter months due to shortage of water to the generation units. Buying power from the central pool or National Grid usually on deferred payment basis to meet some portion of the demand supply gap generally remained all of the policy and planning towards generation and distribution of power in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the overall approach to this major problem having undergone a paradigm shift since the last couple of years , hopes are generated for improvement in this sector. In this connection, Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy on his visit to the UT, while inaugurating six transmission and distribution power projects, made it clear that the Central Government was committed to provide all possible support to the UT in generation of enough power to meet its demand of quality power on 24×7 basis is only recognising and realising the shortcomings in distribution, and deficiency in generation besides no cogent policy to meet the ever increasing demand for power consumption.
It is to be noted that against a hydropower potential of Jammu and Kashmir being over 20000 MWs, only 16500 MWs has been identified and only 2500 MWs of power has been exploited , say just 15 per cent of the identified potential has been harnessed. At the cost of repetition, therefore, Ujh Multipurpose Power Project with 212 MWs needs to be provided all the necessary expertise to resolve various technical issues in which the Central Government can really arrange to do a lot. It hardly needs to be emphasised that assured 24 hour uninterrupted power supply is a guarantee towards improving the ease of living of citizens of the UT besides ease of doing business for the industry as there being more scope of opening up of small to medium entrepreneurial industrial units in Jammu and Kashmir , quality and regular supply of power is thus necessary.
We agree that not only improvement in transmission and distribution is visible on comparative basis but of late, a sense of responsibility has dawned upon those helming the Power Department . On revenue generation, the position is not only quite unsatisfactory but dismal which needs to be vastly improved upon. Better infrastructure and replacement of worn out and obsolete equipment like voltage transformers, transmission lines, poles and the like would invariably lead to cutting down on wastages and losses. What is needed is massive investment in the power sector of the UT looking to the limited financial resources of the UT Government , preferring more of joint ventures and target oriented outputs and projects completion within fixed timelines. The Union Power Minister must have got on the spot acquaintance with the problems faced by the UT on the front of power generation, transmission and distribution which calls for a comprehensive planning by both the UT and the Central Government.