Srinagar, Nov 20: The Kashmir Valley is in the grip of a deepening power crisis, casting its residents into darkness and inflicting substantial economic losses.
Principal Secretary Power Department, H Rajesh Prasad has responded to the urgency by issuing directives to Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) engineers directing them to ensure that curtailment schedules are followed in letter and spirit.
Emphasising the critical need for adherence to the power supply schedule, Prasad has sternly warned against any unscheduled power cuts, underlining the gravity of the situation, according to an official spokesperson.
The severity of the power crisis has been extensively covered by Greater Kashmir, shedding light on the hardships faced by the populace, economic repercussions, and the adverse impact on the health sector.
In the wake of this reportage, Principal Secretary H Rajesh Prasad convened a meeting with Managing Directors of Corporations, Chief Engineers, and senior officers to assess the power supply position in Kashmir where temperatures are steadily decreasing.
During the meeting, Prasad reiterated the need for engineers to follow the schedule diligently, emphasising zero tolerance for unscheduled power cuts.
He also cautioned against overdraw of power, highlighting its significance not only in adhering to the budget but also in upholding grid discipline to prevent disruptions in power supply.
However, KPDCL officials attributed the crisis to the reduced purchase of power from outside Gencos.
A senior KPDCL official said that a decrease from last year’s 1700 MW allocation to approximately 1300 MW during this period is the main reason for the power crisis in Kashmir.
He said that monthly power consumption has dropped by 30 to 40 million units.
The official emphasised that addressing pilferage alone would not suffice, calling for proper power allocation to meet the demand.
“Despite over 70 percent metering in Srinagar city, power cuts persist, with minimal pilferage in metered areas. Revenue realisation has increased by around 30 percent up to October 2023, but the power supply has deteriorated. Although AT&C losses of feeders have reduced with smart meters and LT cabling, not all feeders receive 24×7 power, as promised by KPDCL,” he said. “The power crisis is affecting PHE water supply schemes, particularly in rural areas, due to inadequate power supply. Despite progress in smart metering (70 to 80 percent completion in the Srinagar district), the power supply remains problematic. Billing and collection efficiency of KPDCl have improved substantially, yet power supply has deteriorated proportionally.”
As winter approaches, there are growing concerns that without prompt attention to power demand and supply issues, the situation may worsen, intensifying the suffering of the people.
Despite a reduction in input energy, T&D losses, and AT&C losses, and an increase in billing efficiency, the power supply situation continues to deteriorate.
Meanwhile, the Principal Secretary highlighted the significant infrastructure improvements in recent years and the clearance of outstanding dues under various Government of India schemes.
However, he emphasised the need to minimise losses to ensure the viability of the sector. In line with this commitment, engineers were instructed to intensify efforts to eradicate power pilferage through stringent enforcement measures.
The Principal Secretary urged regular power supply in areas with consistent payments and prioritised measures like metering and AB cabling in high-loss areas.
Expressing deep concern, Prasad noted that despite dispatching more energy this year compared to the previous year, revenue realisation has not seen significant improvement.
He directed the officers to ensure timely billing, distribution of bills, prompt resolution of power outages, and the quick replacement of damaged distribution transformers to avoid inconvenience to the public.
The urgency of the situation underscores the need for swift and effective measures to address the power crisis in Kashmir.
In urban areas, metered locations were initially scheduled for 4.5 hours of load shedding, while non-metered areas were allocated 8 hours.
Similarly, in rural areas, metered locations were slated for a maximum of 6 hours of power cuts, and non-metered areas were to endure 8 hours.
However, due to reduced power allocation, there is no adherence to the schedule, with power cuts extending to 4 to 5 hours at a stretch.
Metered areas are experiencing over 8 hours of load shedding, and non-metered areas are facing up to 10 to 12 hours of power cuts.