PDD meet uncovers rot

‘No Funds To Install Poles; Legislators Hesitant In Releasing Money’

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Nov 14: A crucial review meeting on power scenario in Kashmir Wednesday took the lid off harsh facts with Power Development Department (PDD) expressing helplessness over improving the existing infrastructure due to non-availability of funds, shortage of manpower and indiscipline.
The facts came to fore in a meeting chaired by Minister of State for Power, Shabir Ahmad Khan, at Banquet Hall here. The meeting was attended by top and middle-rung officers of PDD.
The officials revealed that such was the situation that the department was not even able to install an electricity pole and that legislators were hesitant in releasing Rs 25 lakh each for the augmentation of power infrastructure.
“Under the State plan, Rs 17 crore were sanctioned for various projects in 2011. Earlier, Rs 7 crore were released and then Rs 3 crore more. But 7 crore are yet to be released. For setting up eight new receiving stations Rs 13 crore were sanctioned and so far only Rs 1 crore has been released,” Chief Engineer Kashmir (Maintenance and Rural Electrification), Muzaffar Matoo, told the meeting.
He further revealed that for the repairs of damaged receiving stations Rs 6.85 crore were sanctioned but only Rs 4 crore have been released. Similarly, the Chief Engineer said, for running the projects in Leh and Kargil there was serious shortage of diesel. “One lakh liters of diesel should reach Leh and Kargil districts on fast track basis before the road gets closed,” he said.
He said the PDD has conducted 16000 inspections so far and recovered fine of Rs 50 lakh from the defaulters.
A senior PDD official said since MLAs and MLCs were supposed to release Rs 25 lakh each from their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) every year, but so far very few legislators have released the amount. “Here we are facing serious problems. When an MLA or MLC releases the amount, he or she gives preference to his area,” the official revealed.
He said the PDD was grappling with the problem of non-availability of funds despite the fact that many Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSC) were in place. “We don’t have even funds to install a single electricity poll,” the official said. “There was a proposal that some percentage of funds collected under Roshni Act could be used for augmentation of power infrastructure. But so far there is no progress on that.” The official said that collection of water tax was a big ray of hope for power generation in the State.
One of the senior officers of PDD pulled up the officials for delaying the project reports. An official responded: “We are running short of manpower which is delaying the project reports. Plus, our Junior Engineers always seem to be unaware of the decisions taken at the higher level.”
He said 300 Assistant Engineers (AEs) were promoted as Assistant Executive Engineers (AEEs) but no JE was promoted as AE leading to a sort of vacuum. “Besides, our JEs don’t obey the directions from the top,” the official said. Taking strong note of the issue, MoS Power directed the officials to keep an eye on the erring JEs and if needed action be taken against them.
The Chief Engineer urged the MoS Power to take steps to ensure timely release of funds keeping in view the fact that the situation would take an ugly turn due to cost escalation.
He also stated that people should not panic as PDD has no intention to change the existing curtailment schedule - once a week off in non-metered areas and no offs in metered areas.
At the end of the meeting, MoS Power praised the PDD for ‘maintaining a good schedule’. “There was no untoward situation despite LPG crisis as you managed a good power supply,” Khan told the officials.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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