Policy paralysis, inefficiency snatch away ‘power’ from Kishtwar, Gurez

‘Previous regimes’ failure to complete projects crashes future growth’ ‘Bandipora-Gurez line proposed under RDSS’ ‘400/132 KV Sub Station to be constructed at Kishtwar under TBCB mode’ ‘DISCOMS unable to complete Rs 2800 Cr projects in time bound manner’
Representational Photo
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Jammu: Call it contemptible policy paralysis or inefficiency on the part of past regimes, a stark reflection of both is visible in the tale of two districts - that is of ironical neglect and underdevelopment.

Over 70 years down the line, yet, Kishtwar- a hub of power generation and Gurez – a picturesque valley; both pristine destinations of J&K still do not have access to grid connected electricity.

No wonder that is adversely impacting their prospects to emerge as “wonderful and unrivalled tourist destinations.”

If in case of Kishtwar, the inept handling of JKPTCL and sloppy attitude of the subsequent governments since 2004 have denied power to its citizens with their inability to complete 4 transmission lines including 132 kV Ramban to Khilani to Kishtwar line in the last 18 years; the story of Gurez is also that of missed deadlines and despicable policy paralysis – a hallmark of past regimes.

On this account, the poor performance of Central Public Sector Undertakings as project management agencies too is under scanner. If the official sources are to be believed then JPDCL and KPDCL in Jammu, Kashmir too have been proved to be incompetent in handling the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (RAPDRP).

SHODDY STATE OF “POWER AFFAIRS” IN GUREZ

“See, last month, the central government informed the Parliament that more than one Crore tourists visited Jammu & Kashmir in the first half of 2022. The Union Territory is having a good summer. Major towns and well-known destinations are bracing for a million visitors this month and record numbers are flocking to the Gulmarg and Pahalgam. But, the two most pristine and picturesque destinations Gurez and Kishtwar have failed to exploit the tourism boom because of decades of underdevelopment and neglect causing irreversible damage to the local economy. Electricity is one of the primary needs of a society and essential for overall development of a region but Gurez and Kishtwar still crave for an access to grid connected electricity,” official sources said.

With regard to Gurez, they informed that a proposal to construct 33kV Line from Bandipora to Gurez, was sanctioned under DDUGJY/IPDS in 2015-16 but the then government and Distribution wing of KPDCL failed to construct the proposed line for Gurez and the scheme was shortly closed.

According to official sources, a DPR amounting to Rs 160 Cr for providing reliable power supply to Gurez valley was prepared in 2018 and recommended by the then Governor and endorsed by JKPDD from time to time, but it still awaited funding.

“The proposed line will pass over Razdan Top where 10 feet to 20 feet of snow is experienced during winters. PDD lacks resources and expertise to maintain lines at such a high altitude and heavy snow zone,” they pointed out.

Sources also admitted that the meager power supply for LED lighting for 5-7 hours was being provided to consumers through 21 DG sets. “A unit of power costs around Rs 30 to JKPDD against Rs 3.75 from other grid connected sources. The per capita consumption in Gurez is less than 100 units against more than 1400 units in the rest of the UT of J&K, which shows the poor state of affairs in Gurez for several years and decades,” sources said.

They pointed out that the issue was taken up by the Union Minister of Power, R K Singh, in October last year. The Minister had announced a comprehensive investment plan of Rs 4971 Cr in the transmission sector as proposed by the JKPDD.

“Singh reiterated his commitment to provide full support to the UT under various schemes in the Transmission and Distribution sectors. He advised the department to also examine various options including Tariff-based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) mechanism as provisioned under sections 63/62 under the Electricity Act 2003. The Power Development Department has now proposed the Bandipora-Gurez line under Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS),” sources informed.

“Subsequently, the Ministry of Power has devised guidelines and draft tender documents for TBCB mode of funding and issued a number of advisories to states and UTs to take up transmission works under TBCB mode,” they added.

HUB OF POWER IN DARKNESS FOR LAST TWO DECADES

The story of Kishtwar too is not very different from that of Gurez yet here irony also lies in the fact that the district generates power for others and it, itself, reels in darkness. As per official sources, four transmission lines for Kishtwar were approved under PMRP-2004 at a cost of Rs 35 Cr. However, JKPTCL could not complete the 4 transmission lines including 132 kV Ramban to Khilani to Kishtwar Line in the last 18 years. The line went into arbitration with Turnkey Contractor, KEC.

“The other lines have been handed over to PGCIL for completion. It is truly shocking because Kishtwar is the hub of power generation but the JKPTCL and subsequent governments since 2004 have denied power to it and its citizens. The power supply to Kishtwar is being fed through a Single Circuit 132kV line constructed by NHPC for providing construction power to Dulhasti Hydro Electric Project. The line has a capacity of Just 80 MW whereas demand in the area is 140 MW. The people of Kishtwar have been suffering for want of reliable power over the last two decades. Besides whenever a fault occurs on the single circuit there is no other circuit to feed the area,” sources added.

They stated, “JKPDD has decided to construct 400/132 KV Sub Station at Kishtwar under TBCB mode, which will get supply from existing 400kV Dulhasti Kishenpur line and feed some present and upcoming load in the area.”

The sources said that the power scenario also generated questions about Central Public Sector Undertakings as “Project Management Agencies.”

An official referring to JPDCL and KPDCL in Jammu, Kashmir cited complete incompetence in handling the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (RAPDRP) that was sanctioned in 2011 at an estimated cost of Rs 1648 Cr.

“This was a reform scheme to contain AT&C losses. Over the last 11 years, they could only spend Rs 929 Cr that too under the supervision of PMAs; Feedback Infra in Kashmir and Louis Berger in Jammu. CPSUs were not engaged as PIAs for this scheme. The expenditure booked was less than Rs 90 Cr per annum. Due to the failure of the DISCOMS to complete the scheme in time, they have lost thousands of crores each year on account of huge AT&C losses. Given the previous track record in completing the project, it is impossible to expect them to handle and complete Rs.2800 Cr projects in each division in a time bound manner,” the official said.

Sources said out of 210 Feeders in Srinagar city, not a single Feeder was completed to avoid hooking by providing AB cabling and HVDS. The scheme was shortly closed and as far as Srinagar was concerned there was zero achievement.

Rs 650 Cr sanctioned for Srinagar city was partly spent and rest of the money was surrendered without any results. It was only after this massive failure that PGCIL and RECPDCL were invited to support the DISCOMs and provided some work under DDUGJY, IPDS and PMDP.

“These works have been successfully completed by and large. We don’t see the distribution wing of Corporations handling the work of RDSS keeping in view past experience,” sources said.

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