Srinagar, Nov 19: The persistent power crisis in Kashmir has escalated, casting a dark shadow over the Valley’s health sector.
Both government and private healthcare facilities are grappling with the repercussions of load shedding, with hospitals, including tertiary care institutes like SKIMS, SMHS, Lal Ded Hospital, CD Hospital, and JLNM Hospital in Srinagar too bearing the brunt of power cuts.
Health officials have sounded the alarm, particularly highlighting the vulnerability of critical patients dependent on high oxygen flow in hospitals.
“The situation is dire for those in intensive care units (ICUs) or on ventilators, where uninterrupted power is crucial for patient care,” they said.
A senior Health Department official said that sub-district hospitals and rural healthcare facilities were grappling with power cuts, significantly hindering their operations.
Even in Srinagar district, state-run hospitals are not immune and face electricity shortages.
Expressing deep concern, a senior doctor from SKIMS emphasised the gravity of the issue.
The doctor stressed the imperative need for uninterrupted power supply in operation theatres and wards, underscoring that the government must recognise the fundamental necessity of round-the-clock power to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare.
Sources said that government-run hospitals in Srinagar are experiencing delays in procedures such as X-rays, USGs, Echos, ECGs, and other medical procedures due to power cuts.
The situation appears to be worse in rural areas compared to urban centres.
A private hospital official in Srinagar said that private hospitals were equally affected.
“There is an alarming power crisis affecting the health sector, particularly private-run hospitals. Power cuts jeopardise patient care, hampering various healthcare facilities. Power shortages are particularly impactful during surgeries, putting patients at risk,” he said.
The owners of a dialysis centre in Srinagar expressed the dire situation, revealing that they were on the verge of closure due to increased operational costs and losses caused by power cuts.
“I have invested my life savings in this setup, and it is the basic duty of the government to ensure fundamental facilities, including electricity, but here I am incurring huge losses and my patients are suffering due to power cuts,” he said.
Diagnostic centres across Kashmir are reporting significant losses due to power cuts, leading to delays in medical procedures and the delivery of test reports. Patients at home relying on oxygen support face difficult times during load shedding.
A resident of Soura, Waseem Ahmad, shared his disappointment, saying, “When smart meters were installed last year, we were hopeful for round-the-clock power supply so that my father can get oxygen support through the concentrator. However, the situation has turned ugly now as we face more power cuts than before.”
Medical Superintendent Dr Farooq Jan said that SKIMS has a dedicated emergency line and backup power to mitigate the impact of power cuts.
He emphasised that, despite brief interruptions in wards, operation theatres, and ICUs have uninterrupted power through UPS and dedicated generators.
Similarly, Medical Superintendent Dr Muzaffar Sherwani of Lal Ded Hospital said that the hospital has deployed two emergency power lines to meet electricity requirements within the hospital.
Acknowledging the power crisis, a senior KPDCL official assured that tertiary care hospitals like SKIMS, SMHS, and Lal Ded Hospital are categorised as emergency lines, which receive round-the-clock power supply.
“However in rural areas, there can be some problems with power supply which cannot be ruled out,” he said.
Kashmir is heading towards a severe power crisis as the Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) is mulling additional power cuts due to persistently inadequate power allocation to it.
The current power allocation of 1300 MW is a substantial decrease from the 1700 MW received during the same period last year, indicating a severe shortage that threatens to deepen Kashmir’s electricity woes.