PDD only targeting Jammu region, no action in any part of Kashmir valley

Jammu pays more tariff despite consuming less electricity

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 5: The much-hyped drive against power theft and illegal power connections has turned out to be selective with Power Development Department targeting consumers only in Jammu region and leaving those in Kashmir valley untouched. This is notwithstanding the fact that power consumption is more in Kashmir province but the revenue realization is continuously far less than the Jammu region.
The drive against the power theft and illegal connections was launched on the direction issued by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, who is also Minister Incharge Power Development Department few months back in a high-level meeting of the officers.
Thereafter, the direction was reiterated on numerous occasions on the ground that power theft and illegal connections were the root cause of frequent power cuts. The top officers of the Power Development Department were told in explicit terms that strict action should be taken against the violators to prevent power pilferage failing which non-performing officers will be taken to task.
However, the drive has remained confined to Jammu region more particularly in few districts and such an action has yet not been initiated in any part of the Kashmir valley, official sources told EXCELSIOR. In this way, the PDD has adopted selective approach in its drive aimed at collecting revenue and checking power theft.
During the past two months the PDD has come up with official figures mentioning the illegal connections disconnected and power defaulters booked in Jammu region a number of times but no such information vis-à-vis Kashmir valley has been revealed so far. “Actually, the department has not launched drive in the Kashmir valley as such it has nothing to boast off”, sources regretted.
In Jammu region, the PDD has touched all the sections of the consumers like domestic, commercial and industrial but no vigorous drive has been launched against any of these sections in Kashmir province despite being aware of the fact that power theft and non-payment of regular tariff is also a common phenomenon there, they further said.
“The most astonishing fact is that those at the helm of affairs in the department are not even bothering to issue directions for start of similar drive in other parts of the State so as to give a clear message that department has only one yardstick for all sorts of defaulters and violators in all the parts of Jammu and Kashmir”, sources said.
They further said, “the selective approach is notwithstanding the fact that revenue realization from Jammu region is more than Kashmir valley despite consuming less energy”, adding “the power consumption is around 55% in Kashmir valley and 45% in Jammu region”.
As per the official figures, during 2015-16 financial year, the Power Development Department realized Rs 1074 crore revenue from Jammu region as compared to Rs 835 crore from Kashmir valley. Similarly, during 2016-17 financial year, revenue to the tune of Rs 1111 crore was realized from Jammu region while as the tariff collection from the Kashmir valley was to the tune of merely Rs 733 crore.
How can the Power Development Department justify selective approach in drive against power theft and illegal power connections in the light of these figures?, sources asked, adding no doubt such a drive was the necessity so as to reduce the gap between money being spent on purchase of power and tariff realization but focus should be on all parts of Jammu and Kashmir instead of only one region.
The intention behind the drive was welfare of the State but by adopting different yardsticks for different regions of the State the Power Development Department is creating resentment among some sections of the consumers, they said while disclosing that even the law which governs the subject doesn’t permit discrimination.
Moreover, there is no justification behind the officers of the Power Development Department awaiting instructions from the Minister Incharge for initiating drive against power theft and illegal connections especially when Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Act clearly states: “Whosoever dishonestly consumes electricity shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years or with fine or with both”. Moreover, the Act empowers the department to disconnect the power connection of the person who neglects to pay any charge for electricity.
“Enforcement of Act should not be an occasional drive and it should be a regular phenomenon with no intervention from the politicians for being selective in tightening noose around the power thieves and defaulters”, sources stressed and hoped that PDD will start focusing on other parts of the State so as to give uniformity to the drive.