Part I | Power Shortage in J&K – Facts and Figures

Teen electrocuted to death at Eidgah in central Kashmir village

Recently NHPC announced that Uri I HEP had achieved the highest annual generation since its commissioning in 1997. This was good news for J&K as well since correspondingly its share of free energy calculated at 12% of generated energy would also increase. This increase in generation has been attributed to the higher discharge during the year in River Jhelum. Similar has been the case with other hydro power projects in the UT where the generation has been better than estimated due to same reason, i.e. increased flows in the respective rivers. Besides increased precipitation, the increased annual flows in rivers, particularly in rivers which originate from or are fed by melting glaciers, is attributed to climate change; the warming up of the earth resulting in increased glacial melt.

However, in spite of this increased generation, for the consumers in J&K there seems to have no respite from blackouts or as it is politely termed ‘load shedding’ by the government – the consumers still suffer the regular power cuts and unfortunately unlike the previous years this year, particularly in winter, the power cuts have been longer, frequent and most annoyingly erratic. The load curtailment schedule issued by the department was never implemented properly and they suffered a much higher degree of loading shedding than given in the curtailment schedule.

In this scenario of perennial load shedding it is interesting to see how J&K, previously a state and now a union territory, fares in peak demand compared to other states and union territories. Looking at the figures of 2019-20 one notices that J&K’s total annual peak demand was a mere 1.8% of the all India demand – J&K has had a peak demand of 3,400 MW compared to all India demand of 1,84,000 MW for the same period.

However, when we now look through the states and union territories one cannot fail to observe that J&K has by far the highest shortfall between peak demand and peak met amongst them all. The difference between annual peak demand and peak met, in J&K for 2019-20, was estimated at 681 MW which is nearly 54% of the shortfall at the all India level. So, J&K which accounts for a mere 1.8% of the peak annual demand but accounts for 54% of the peak shortfall aggregated at all India. It is as much shocking as it is revealing.

It is ironic that a state that once prided in being one of the first to have commissioned a hydro power station (4 MW Mohura on Jhelum in Baramulla) in India in 1905, today has by far the largest shortfall amongst all the states and union territories in the country. With a shortfall of 681 MW J&K ranks No 1 in shortfall followed by Uttar Pradesh (with peak demand nearly 7 times our demand) coming second.

Looking at the all India level power sector data, it is clear that India is now energy surplus, both in generation capacity and in energy supplied. In such a scenario the fact that J&K has such a huge gap between peak demand and supply raises a pertinent question as to why does J&K still have such a large shortfall between peak demand and peak met which leads to a heavy power curtailment program in J&K. When generation is curtailed to match the demand there is no need for power curtailment in any state or union territory. If the utility is willing to pay it should be able to buy energy.

We will attempt to discuss this, in light of some additional data and more information, in second part of this writeup