On November 30 last year, the governor's advisor Kewal Kumar Sharma directed the power development department to complete work on the Alastang grid station by end of the year to expedite enhancing the power import capacity to Kashmir by another 250-MW, and, alongside, address power crisis in the Valley.
While the department met the deadline and carried out a "test charge" successfully, it has now come to the fore that failure of the government authorities to resolve a land dispute for setting up three towers over the years and connect Alastang with Zainakote grid, through a separate transmission line could further push the commissioning of the grid.
The grid is all set for commissioning, said an official, but added that the entire project got delayed because there is a dispute over land for setting up few towers in Budgam area.
The transmission line comprises 158 towers and while 130 towers have been erected, the foundation has been laid for another 26.
In the last week of December 2018, when the governor's advisor reviewed the progress of work on the grid again, the authorities concerned in district Budgam assured that the land dispute would be resolved in a month time, another official said.
"It is surprising that right of way (for laying transmission line) wasn't taken care of all these years. The blame lies with both district administration and authorities in the power department who didn't bother to resolve the issue beforehand," said the official.
The grid station was approved by then Congress-led UPA government at the Centre in 2006. But despite availability of the funds, the project construction was delayed and it was only last year, after Greater Kashmir published a series of stories on the issue, the then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti set November 2018 deadline for completing the project.
During the past few months, the power department's systems and operations wing has worked at stretch to ensure completion of the pending works of the grid, said an official.
At present, the peak demand for power in Kashmir Valley is around 1900 MW. But the existing transmission system has the capacity to import only 1250 MW. With Alestang grid functioning, this capacity would go up to 1500 MW.
"It would not only take care of unscheduled power cuts but also ensure better power supply," said the official.