Power Protests Jam Old City

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SRINAGAR: Brought into the streets by the worsening power crisis in the Valley, people jammed the congested Old City with demonstrations after Friday prayers today, and held up traffic for several hours on the Sopore-Kupwara highway in North Kashmir.

The state’s summer capital has witnessed over a dozen angry demonstrations this week over prolonged and unscheduled power curtailments when the valley is deep in sub-zero cold of harsh winter nights.

Scores of Old Srinagar localities erupted in protest today as well after Friday prayers as residents occupied streets with burning tyres amid angry slogans against the government and the Power Development Department (PDD).

The protests broke out in Safa Kadal, Seki Dafar, Wani Yaar, Gandarpora, Noor Bagh, Dalal Mohalla, Chamar Dori, Dabtal, Gunz Khod, Zaina Kadal, Nawab Bazaar, Said Pora, Gagri Mohalla, Aali Kadal, Rahbab Sahab, Cement Kadal and other areas.

The protests held short marches, dharnas, and raised slogans, bringing a large swathe in downtown Srinagar to a standstill.

Vehicular movement came to a literal halt for most of the city’s downtown quarter.

Angry demonstrators rushed at the Gandarpora receiving stations, padlocking the power installation from outside to prevent any personnel from coming out.

The residents said that the previously-announced two-day curtailment had now been doubled to four days, and that too without any prior notice.

“On the three days the power is available, we have to face curtailments of two to three hours every evening,” the protestors said.

“Besides, power supply is highly erratic during the day,” they said.

“When this is the situation the state’s capital, the conditions in other areas can only be imagined,” they said.    

In the Handwara area of North Kashmir, a large number of people took to the streets near Chogul, and halted traffic on the key Sopore-Kupwara Highway.

The protestors had poured out of a number of adjacent localities decrying the Power Development Department.

They alleged that PDD personnel had cut power supply to their areas arbitrarily.

“The PDD has used power dues as an excuse to cut our supply, but the question is why should pay the government for something we do not get,” they said.

“Consumers are committed to paying their dues in time, but the government too should ensure that they get their money’s worth in regular electric supply,” they said.

“The PDD extracts fees from us, but when winter comes, it deprives us of power,” they said. 

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