Already facing prolonged and unscheduled power cuts, Kashmir is set to witness further curtailment in the supplies amid chilling winter conditions.
The Power Development Department is working on a proposal to slash the power supply in both metered and non-metered areas. This comes barely few days after the Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed directed the PDD to ensure supply of power as per schedule.
As per the details worked out by the Department, the metered consumers would now face at least five hours of power curtailment per-day, apart from unscheduled cuts they have to bear with.
In the non-metered areas, the power scenario is set to worsen further, with the Department mulling to increase curtailment schedule to nine hours per-day.
Last year, the PDD had revised the schedule and enforced power cut of eight hours in non-metered areas and two-hours in metered areas, said an official.
"The Department is mulling to increase curtailment by three hours to metered consumers and one hour to non-metered consumers," the official said.
The curtailment in metered areas is against the norms where the department is bound to provide round-the-clock power supply. But the Department has been violating its own schedule by resorting to long and unscheduled powers cuts in both metered and non-metered areas.
"One of the reasons behind the increase in power cuts has been the failure of the government to augment the existing transmission system in Kashmir," sources said. "We are already drawing around 1000-MW supply while the capacity is not more than 1050-MW."
The increase in the consumer base has also led to consumption of additional energy, putting overall strain on the system, said an official.
ANGER IN KASHMIR
The extended power cuts surface as an unwritten rule in Kashmir soon after the Durbar (seat of governance) shifts to Jammu in November as a bi-annual practice, and the phenomenon grows severe as winter sets in. The situation has equally worsened in rural Kashmir as well as townships and cities.
"Every year we are assured of better power supply but the situation instead worsens," said Nissar Ahmad of Pampore. "We have been barely getting few hours of power supply per day. They (authorities) resort to power cuts as per their own wishes in our locality."
A visibly upset Muhammad Hussain of Hazratbal said with each passing day, the frequency of unscheduled cuts is growing in the locality. "This is happening despite our area being fully metered," he told Greater Kashmir.
Reports have been pouring that angry consumers including women are hitting roads and blocking traffic for hours in different parts of south Kashmir's Islamabad (Anantnag) and Pulwama districts, like many localities of Srinagar, Budgam and elsewhere to protest against diminishing power supply.
In Charar-I-Sharief township of Budgam, consumers have been complaining of inadequate supply of power during daytime. With the stroke of dusk, the department plays hide and seek with the power supply, violating their own schedule.
The Kashmir Civil Society KCSDS asked the State Electricity Regulatory Commission to intervene to provide relief to consumers. "Why should common man suffer and accept the breach of agreement on power supply by the Department? The SERC should take note of the violations and reprimand PDD. Let the SERC ask consumers to pay only for the supplies they get rather than as per the agreement. That should be the way," said civil society member Shakeel Qalander.
The KCSDS has termed the pesky and unscheduled power cuts as breach of agreement by PDD with consumers.
"We will not desist from mobilizing public against the discrimination consumers are made to face," said the KCSDS.
On October 29, Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed directed the Power Development Department to "work out an institutional mechanism" to power supply "strictly in accordance with the notified schedule."