Prolonged power cuts return to haunt people in Kashmir

'Power pilferage has pushed energy demand over 2600 MW'
A woman holds candle as she cooks rice on gas stove in the absence of electricity in Srinagar amid heavy curtailments during winters.
A woman holds candle as she cooks rice on gas stove in the absence of electricity in Srinagar amid heavy curtailments during winters.File: Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: With the onset of winter, the unscheduled and extended power cuts have aggravated woes of people in Kashmir.

Of late both metered and non-metered areas in Kashmir have started witnessing extended unscheduled power cuts, despite the fact that Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) announced a load shedding program of 1.5 hours in metered areas and 3 hours in non-metered areas.

However despite the load shedding program being announced, the KPDCL is resorting to unscheduled pesky power cuts which have caused anguish among people in Kashmir who are facing inconvenience due to power cuts coupled with dip in mercury.

“What is the fun of issuing a curtailment schedule when the power corporation is not able to implement it? In our area, power cuts are random; there is no adherence to any schedule. Someday we don’t have power for the whole day or power cuts last for more than 3 hours,” Musaib Ahmad, a resident of Soura which is a metered area and is supposed as per KPDCL schedule to witness only 1.5 hours of power cut in a day.

While in non-metered areas the power crisis is worse than in metered areas. “There is no schedule for power, despite tall claims of the administration of enhancing energy supply, power cuts last hours together causing a lot of inconvenience to the general public. Power is the basic necessity, despite Kashmir being rich in hydroelectric resources, we are being made to suffer,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of Nawab Baza in the old city.

Power supply scenario in rural areas is also pesky. “Unfortunately when the electricity is most needed, power corporations resort to prolonged power cuts without any rhyme and reason. If they are not able to supply power, they should announce it. They are taking gullible consumers for a ride by announcing on paper that power curtailment will remain for just a few hours in a day, while in reality power remains on for just two to three hours in a day,” said Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Kupwara.

President, Kashmir Traders Association, Aijaz Ahmad Shahdhar said unscheduled power cuts are a great inconvenience to the traders and students.

“The traders have expressed serious concern over the erratic power supply being provided these days. Winter is yet to peak but hide and seek of power supply has started in advance. There are unscheduled power cuts despite issuance of power curtailment schedule. Students too are suffering at a time when the examinations are taking place,” Shahdhar said.

KPDCL officials blame ‘power pilferage for load shedding’ stating that unrestricted demand has increased to 2600 MWs while the power corporation has the capacity to supply only 1600 MWs of electricity. A senior KPDCL official said consumers are illegally using crude heating gadgets, power thefts are rampant which are leading to load shedding and forcing our system to resort to load shedding.

“To some extent it is also our failure that we are able to stop power pilferage, we need to be strict,” he said adding that as compared to last year in November we are supplying over 15 per cent more energy.

When contacted Chief Engineer, KPDCL, Aijaz Ahmad Dar said “ we have reiterated time and again that people should desist from using crude heating gadgets, power thefts so as to enable us serve them better.”

While divulging the figures of power supplies, Dar said “Last year in November we were supplying 219 lakh units of electricity, this year we are supplying 325 lakh units thereby an average of 10 to 12 per cent in energy supplied.”

Last year, in the first ten days of November, we supplied around 2955 lakh units of electricity, while this year we have supplied 3240 units of energy which is considerably much higher than the previous year.”

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