‘This year the power situation has become inconsistent and irregular even before the arrival of winter. With no signs of improvement, many residents said that patients, students, and the elderly are under stress as a result of power outages.’
SRINAGAR — Despite the government’s promises to provide round the clock electricity, consumers in Kashmir continue to experience unprecedented power outages. People hardly get relief, with a dramatic drop in temperature and the entire valley groaning in sub-zero temperatures.
The Power Ministry of India data states that the average power supply per day is 22.17 hours in rural areas and 23.36 hours in cities. The valley is witnessing power outages for several hours in 24 hours. This is more in the non-metered areas where there are power cuts for six to seven hours.
Shameema, a resident of the Sonwar area of Srinagar city said that power cuts are frequent as the winter is setting in. “Every year, we expect the electricity schedule to improve, but it only gets worse. We pay huge amounts as electricity bills and deserve a better power supply.”
According to the Power Development Department (PDD), Srinagar has a supply of 650 megawatts and the consumption is 850 megawatts. The PDD blames this overload of consumption for substandard power supply.
This year the power situation has become inconsistent and irregular even before the arrival of winter.
With no signs of improvement, many residents said that patients, students, and the elderly are under stress as a result of power outages.
“While ordinary users, such as students, bore the burden of the unplanned power outages, the issue has disproportionately impacted traders, particularly those in the tourism and other sectors,” they said.
The power scenario in the valley has gotten worse in recent weeks. “During the late hours, power outages are more frequent and last longer,” Suhail Arshid, a class 12 student said.
Irshad said that the situation in rural areas is even worse, with most villages and townships without power for hours. “People have taken to the streets to protest the frequent power outages. What’s more disheartening is the administration’s lackadaisical attitude,” he said.
Assistant Executive Engineer PDD Irshad Ahmad Sofi said that in winters power curtailments are regular and necessary. Its main reason is people use electric appliances in excess, especially in peak hours. They should follow the agreement and use the electrical appliances in the limit, he said. “They use electricity illegally but call it casual.”
Earlier this year the Jammu & Kashmir administration and the Union government signed several MOUs in the power sector, which would draw investments of Rs 35,000 crore. The government promised that the region would turn from a power-deficit to a power-surplus region and there would be 24-hour power supply in the region.
The Power Development Department (PDD) of J&K aimed at greater generation, efficient transmission, and better distribution of power supply in the UT.
Power cuts have also hurt the students. “My studies are badly impacted by the power crisis,” Irshad said. “Night studies are generally. Good,” he said, “but there’s no electricity at night time.” “We have to use candles and batteries to study but they don’t work after a few hours.”
As the harsh winter is about to set in, the Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) announced a major crackdown to curb electricity theft and initiate legal proceedings against the accused.
Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) is currently supplying 1500 Mega Watt electricity to consumers however ahead of winters the demand has increased to 2200 MW. The officials said if the illegal theft went unchecked the demand would reach 2500 MW.
Many people are also raising the issue that some regions are without meters while the metered areas pay a huge amount of electricity bills.
“There are some regions in Srinagar where meters are not installed and people use electricity in excess and we have to pay huge amounts of bills. It is very unfair that the government has not looked into this matter for years,” said Abdul Majeed, a city resident.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference also issued a statement. “The current situation has dashed the hopes of people to get improved and uninterrupted power supply,” a spokesperson of NC said in a statement.
The spokesperson said that the concerned department isn’t following a particular load shedding schedule whereas the government continues to remain unmoved. Providing relief to people, unfortunately, isn’t on the to-do list of the incumbent administration. It seems people’s suffering will continue this winter too, he said.
Basit Parray is a bachelor's student of Journalism & Mass Communication at the Cluster University, Srinagar. He is currently an editorial intern at the Mountain Ink.