Protests hinder installation of Smart Meters in Srinagar

Will ensure to complete target within year: CE KPDCL
Women clearing broken Smart Meters which were damaged as people registered protests against their installation in Rajbagh.  [Representational Image]
Women clearing broken Smart Meters which were damaged as people registered protests against their installation in Rajbagh. [Representational Image] File: Screengrab

Srinagar: The Smart Meter Project of the Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) has hit roadblocks due to protests in various areas of Srinagar.

In recent weeks, protests were held in several areas including Rainawari,Habba kadal, Mehjoor Nagar and Aalochi Bagh against installation of Smart Meters. Locals in these Srinagar areas said that Smart Meters are being installed in the areas inhabited by predominantly poor population. They fear that it will escalate  monthly bills that they cannot afford to pay.

During protests, which were mostly led by females, the protesters said that given their financially weak background, they were unable to make the ends meet.

“We are from poor families. Our educated youth are jobless, so how can we afford bills generated by Smart Meters. Most of the locals here are either roadside vendors or labourers. How can we pay hefty bills when we are unable to feed ourselves? The government should consider the poor people of the society and exempt us from this,” said a female protester during one such protest at Habba Kadal locality.

The protesters said that despite being full of electricity resources, they are made to suffer by such schemes. They said if the government wants to install meters in their localities, then it should be ensured that poor families are exempted.

An official from KPDCL said that although they are facing protests at isolated places in Srinagar and the work at most places is going on schedule.

“Many consumers have wrong information, and they need to be informed that the completion of the project will ensure uninterrupted power supply and other facilities,” said an official.

While talking to Greater Kashmir, Chief Engineer KPDCL, Javed Yousuf Dar said that the Smart Meter project will be completed within a year in Srinagar. He said, in addition to that, they will finish the smart metering across the valley in the next two years.

“This is for the good of people and will tackle energy theft, and also people won’t be able to use crude gadgets, which is a major issue. Despite all odds, we are going on with the project smoothly and will finish the installation in time. At the end of the project, it will benefit consumers and will make the power supply better for every consumer,” Dar said.

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