In 2011, the Power Department was allotted an ambitious project to improve power distribution in Kashmir by bringing down the transmission losses and curbing the energy theft.
Eight years later, the department has completed only 10 percent work on the Rs 876 crore High Voltage Distribution System (HVDS) cabling project. Worse, the project is now being retendered owing to the gross mismanagement on part of the authorities.
An official said the project implementation faced hurdles from the very beginning.
The work on the project was started more than two years later in 2014, month before the Valley was hit by a devastating flood. The work was awarded to a Kolkata-based company. However, the official said, the company turned bankrupt after some initial years of work.
“As a result the project got delayed and in 2016 following the unrest the government extended the project deadline to give a breather to the company. But the company’s financial position didn’t improve forcing the government to terminate the contract in 2018,” the official said.
The company had outsourced the work to local contractors. They too however backed off after their payments were withheld by the company.
The resentment shown by the consumers over implementation of the project also led to the delay, said the official.
“As we were installing new transformers and replacing the existing power lines with the HVDS cabling in cities and towns we faced resentment from locals in many areas who did not allow the project implementation as there are least chances of pilferage under the new system,” said another official.
The official said the mismanagement on part of the government also led to the delay. He said the project was first handed over to PDD’s distribution followed by a decision some years later that the Transmission wing will execute it.
“Now it has been handed over to the Projects wing,” said the official.
The officials said the authorities have now decided to re-tender the project. “The tendering process is on,” he said, adding the entire project would be sub-let to multiple contractors to expedite the work.
The project is being executed under centrally sponsored scheme called Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Program (RAPDR) and integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS).