Power Shutdown Today?

Sakar Chatta

This is the constant and most common headline we read in this esteemed newspaper every day. I am pretty sure if you bring out any 10 editions of Daily Excelsior newspaper randomly from this year 2021, 8 of them would have a “Power Shut Down”notice (if you are lucky enough with the picks, may be all 10 will have that news). Jokes apart but this doesn’t seem to be a nice approach for carrying out repair works andintimating the public about power outage from the JPDCL department. But I really appreciate the efforts electricity department is putting to conduct frequent repairs and upgrade activities. With each passing year and since the restructuring of the departments, the power cuts have reduced to bare minimum and kudos to the authorities for their untiring efforts. But I must say our Union Territory (UT) has got a huge potential to attract more manufacturing and commercial units which can lead to its growth and prosperity. And electricity would be the backbone to drive all such businesses and contribute in making Jammu -“ASmart City”. We should introspect the quality of electricity services being provided in the UT and the process adopted apropos maintenance activities. Electricity generation is not a problem, but certainly powertransmission and distribution has a huge scope for improvement. And with the current situation where everyone is locked down in their houses and temperature is crossing 40 degrees Celsius, frequent power cuts add to distress. A lot of office work is entirely dependent on electricity and work from home is only possible if there are no interruption with services. Without electricity, life and technology is brought to standstill. I had a personal bad experience when the power was shut down in my locality a month back. There was no supply for continuous 8 hours which made me visit the power station. When I enquired about the reason of power shut down since morning without any prior notice, the in-charge gave a blunt response and as I quote in his words – “yahan aise hi chalta hai”. Moreover, he boasted of being a Government employee and said – “sarkaari kaam aise hi hote hai, koi mehnat karne ko raazi nahi”. His response made me think – Are we really going to build a smart city in near future with that kind of attitude and service? Those statements made me think for whole day and created an impression about the slow-paced and casual work ethics adopted by some government employees, who leave the entire department in bad reputation. Informing the power outage in areas just a day before and sometimes on the same day itself is not quite helpful. Certainly, the department should work on the communication front. If the department keeps following such lame way of working and turns a deaf ear to public grievances, the day is not far when we will be left with no option but to transition and outsource all the responsibilities to a private player for restructuring the power sector in UT. It’s totally understandable that maintenance activities are required every now and then but a well-organised and planned one is the need of the hour. I propose few of the ideas that the department couldimplement,and the authorities should give it a shot as well: “Split the maintenance activities into two parts – Planned Maintenance and Emergency Maintenance. The former one can be published in the newspaper on a fixed day of the week. This should present the weekly roster and a well-formulated activity plan should be chalked down. Haphazard way of carrying out activities should be avoided. The public notice should have a mention of the date, areas affected, reason for the downtime and timings/hours required for maintenance (not to be more than 2-3 hours). This will help the masses to have a know-how in advance about the maintenance plan for their area and will have more faith and trust on the services rendered by the department. The employees of the department are doing a commendable job, but alignment of processes and planning is a big miss. The Emergency maintenance can be conducted on-demand and same should only be notified, the way it is being informed by authoritiesright now almost every day. And most of them from the gist of it seem to be part of a regular maintenance, not even emergency ones that we come across daily. Boggling down the newspaper daily with a headline “Power Shut Down Today” creates a very negative impression. “Please plan a regular monthly power downtime across the districts on some fixed day of the month. Basic checks can be performed that day and we are saved from elevated problems later like damage of electrical components or equipment during the transmission and distribution process. Upgradation/Development/Repair works like Branch cutting, Tightening/replacing of Jumpers, repair of isolators/conductors and earth wires, maintenance work with Feeders and various other hotspots should be done each month and this should be a regular activity across the UT. Here the department can even shut down the power for 4-6 hours if required. Having such kind of maintenance 12 times a year is still better than having them frequently every now and then, without public knowledge. This will save the employees of electricity department from panic situations and the extra workload as well. We have seen few mishaps happening in the UT lately (A daily wager lineman of PDD died in Reasi this year and two persons in Kathua were hit by high tension wire a few weeks back). Incidents of electrocution and various other unfortunate mishaps like that can be reverted. “Impose heavy penalties and fines on the establishments who are stealing the electricity and doing malpractices that cause interruptions with the seamless supply of power to general masses. Such anti-social elements should be taught a lesson and their power supply and Consumer ID should be revoked after few warnings. A legal action must be taken against them. There is a dire need for the public also to understand their duties and consume the power efficiently and effectively. We should use the electrical and electronic appliances sensibly, especially the ones that put heavy load on the transmission and distribution lines. The government can’t be blamed and held accountable for everything. The citizens should also act responsibly and play their part well. I hope the authorities will take all the necessary steps to align the process and we experience less of such emergency maintenance noticesand more of the planned ones. This will bring organization in the process and the department will gain trust of the masses. (The author is Microsoft Cloud Engineer) feedbackexcelsior@gmail.com