Srinagar: Even though the Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) has set a revised schedule for protracted power curtailments, annoying and unforeseen power outages still plague both the consumers and the local business community.
The KPDCL's power curtailment schedule calls for 4.5 hours of load shedding in the metered areas during the day and 6 hours in non-metered areas.
In contrast to these extended power outages, KPDCL's unscheduled power cuts that it implements after its scheduled power curtailments are causing problems for the consumers in Kashmir.
Muhammad Maqbool of Soura said that there was no adherence to the power curtailment schedule.
"After experiencing a scheduled power cut of 1.5 hours, electrical supply gets disrupted within a few minutes," he said.
Business analysts believe that the cumulative impact of the planned and unplanned power outages throughout the manufacturing, service, and agricultural sectors must be causing a decline in economic output and productivity in the Kashmir region between 35 and 40 percent.
Regarding the extended power outages, the situation is the same in urban and rural areas.
The residents of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district accused the government of denying them a consistent electric supply saying that this had damaged their ability to go about their daily lives.
Many people complained about the frequent power outages in their hometowns including Lalpora, Sogam, Warnaw, Kalarose, Khumriyal, Kupwara town, Trehgam, Kralpora, Karnah, Tanghdar, Drugmulla, Nagri, Kandi, Vadhpora, Kawari, Natnusa, Maidan Chogal, Gund Chogal, Magam, Vilgam, Tarthpora, and Hangikot.
The consumers claimed that for the past month, the district's total daily power supply had been cut to just a few hours.
Assistant Engineer STD Sohail Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that the imbalance between the supply and the demand was the primary cause of sporadic power outages.
The Baramulla district of north Kashmir is also experiencing unannounced power outages that have made life difficult for the local populace.
Locals said that despite the J&K administration's explicit orders to KPDCL officials to adhere to the power schedule, regular power outages continue to occur.
The electricity situation in Baramulla and Sopore town is getting worse every day due to the KPDCL's unexpected power outages, causing a lot of difficulties for the people.
Similar power scenarios are seen at Rafiabad, Tangmarg, and Uri area of the district.
Although it has not snowed yet, Basharat Ahmad, a resident of Rafiabad, said that the power situation had gotten worse.
"The authorities need to ensure that at least the scheduled power supply is not disturbed," he said.
In Baramulla town, the delay in the augmentation of the Sheeri grid station from 50 KV to 100 KV is a big hurdle in the scheduled power supply.
The augmentation once completed is believed to provide a relief to the consumers across major areas of Baramulla.
Following severe power crisis, locals to vent their anger have resorted to protests on several occasions.
However, KPDCL officials have been least bothered.
Many outlying villages of south Kashmir's Shopian district witness frequent and unscheduled power outages.
Many villages including Chitragam, Turkawangam, and Imam Sahab witness protracted power cuts.
Mubashir Ahmad of Chitragam said that the electricity in the area was reduced to only a few hours a day.
"We did not even receive it as per the schedule," he said. “Each year, at the onset of winter, the power scenario worsens.”
Improvement in power supply is being witnessed in Bandipora division's electricity supply reaching as far as Arin DDC constituency’s Sirinder.
Atim, which struggled with power outages, has witnessed improvement in the electricity supply.
Basit, a local, said, "Unscheduled power outages were less frequent now."
However, he said that the hillside semi-tribal village of Sirinder has certain problems.
Executive Engineer of PDD in Bandipora, Tariq Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that the overall scenario of power in Bandipora was at par or even better than other divisions.
"We are supplying 19 to 20 hours of electric supply in metered areas and 16 to 18 hours in non-metered areas," he said.
Ahmad said that the problematic areas like Papchan feeder being fully metered with ABC cabling was provided uninterrupted power supply except for grid rotation.
“Arin feeder where peak demand is more than optimum capacity of transformer in Ajar receiving station is having additional cuts," he said.
People in Ganderbal district are facing inconvenience with the unannounced power outages in various locations.
People in several localities including Gund, Gagengar, Kulan, Kangan, Lar, and Ganderbal complained about the unscheduled power outages.
They said that because of the severe weather, electricity was playing hide and seek, causing problems for consumers.
Chief Engineer KPDCL Javid Ahmad Dar told Greater Kashmir that despite supplying more than the agreed-upon load, there remains a shortage.
“Our peak demand has surpassed 2500 MWs. Although there is no proposal to extend the scheduled power curtailment owing to distress, we must resort to load shedding due to injudicious consumption of electricity,” he said.
"The government incurs Rs 6000 crore losses each year due to mismatches in power purchases and income realised from the consumers," Dar said. "In certain locations where smart metering has been finished, electricity supply has improved considerably."