Power crisis deepens in Kashmir

250 MWs deficit leading to outages
A woman cooks even as she holds candle with other hand amid absence of electricity. [Image for representational purpose only]
A woman cooks even as she holds candle with other hand amid absence of electricity. [Image for representational purpose only] File: Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: Unscheduled power outages in Kashmir do not  seem to be going away anytime soon as a result of the government's move to purchase less power from outside J&K discoms, which has increased the gap between supply and demand for electricity.

Official sources said, "There is a directive to procure less electricity from outside discoms, resulting in annoying and unannounced power outages."

A senior official of Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL), who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Right now, our peak demand is around 1450 MWs and we are only able to supply 1200 MWs, which means a deficit of 250 MWs that is forcing us to opt for load shedding."

He said that they were not authorised to talk about this publicly but confirmed that power purchases had decreased, leading to a gap between the demand and supply of electricity.

“We have no choice but to use load shedding in both metered and non-metered areas,” the senior KPDCL official said.

“If we don't cut power supply to metered areas, then other areas will have to face over 12-hour power cuts,” he said on why even localities with smart meters experienced lengthy power outages.

Even though there is less demand for electricity at this time of year, individuals are suffering greatly from their reliance on outside power supplies since the government has opted to lower its power purchase costs.

The KPDCL authorities are mum about the current electricity situation.

Greater Kashmir’s several calls and SMS to KPDCL's Managing Director, Baseer-ul-Haq, went unanswered.

People in Kashmir are up in arms over the current electricity situation, complaining that the administration had chosen load shedding instead of the promised 24x7 power supply, which was reminiscent of the past.

President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Javid Tenga said that the unreliable power supply, which frequently experiences breakdowns and unannounced shutdowns, was severely impairing public life in all areas.

"Apart from the misery experienced by homes, the frequent power outages also cause businesses, dealers, and tourist attractions to endure exorbitant losses and mental anguish," he said.

Despite having plenty of water resources and the ability to produce hydropower, J&K nevertheless needs supplies from outside sources to satisfy its power needs.

As J&K has spent a staggering Rs 55,254 crore on buying energy from overseas power firms in the previous 10 years, power purchases continue to be a significant drain on J&K's exchequer.

“J&K pays the central government’s power distribution corporations, and other utilities an average of Rs 7500 crore per year for electricity, while the government only receives a pitiful Rs 3200 crore in annual power tariff payments from citizens, and businesses. It means annual power purchase losses of a record Rs 4300 crore,” a senior Power Development Department (PDD) official said.

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