Kashmir’s power crisis tops Modi’s priority list

SRINAGAR: If all goes well between New Delhi and Srinagar under the newly emerged leadership of Narendra Modi, J&K may be able to cope with some of its power woes. Tackling power crisis in many North Indian states including J&K tops Modi’s priority list, reliable sources said adding that even before being sworn in the new Indian leader has asked officials to dust off files and get the Solar Energy Parks (SEPs) active across country.
“The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has announced plans to set up a number of multi-developer solar parks across the country. Additionally, several states have announced ambitious solar power policies to attract investment and boost self-sufficiency in power generation,” reports from New Delhi said.
J&K government may not pitch in with quick proposals due to political reasons including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s vitriolic poll campaign against Modi. “But Modi means business and if J&K want to do business with him it has a long way to go. Farooq Abdullah is already holding the ministry of New and Renewable Energy . They can get some breather to the crisis-hit power sector of J&K,” an observer said.
Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi recently said that his government wants every home to be able to run at least one light bulb by 2019. 40 Crore Indians, more than the population of the United States and Canada combined, lack electricity. Modi, sources said, has tentatively named this ambitious project as Ujala.
In 2011, India was the fourth-largest energy consumer in the world, with over 40 percent of that coming from coal and another 20 percent from oil, the majority of which is imported. On top of resource issues, grid access is also a major hurdle. Electricity theft is pervasive: 15 to 30 percent of power is lost to illegal hookups, bill fraud, or nonpayment. 
Jammu and Kashmir is understood to receive some of the highest solar radiation in India. The state, however, faces a variety of issues that have inhibited large-scale expansion of power generation sources. Experts cite lack of government focus on infrastructure expansion, decades-long insurgency, remote population centers and mountainous terrain as key reason why J&K is not yet on the India’s solar power map.
But compared to Kashmir or Jammu, the Ladakh region, one of the most remote places in India, is excessively dependent on fuel imports from other states. That makes the government’s ambitious 7500 MWs solar power project for the region even ore strategic. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, has already planed to speed up solar power development, targeting a more than tripling of installed capacity to 70 Gigawatts by 2017. India lags way behind China and plans to source only three percent of its total electricity requirement from solar power by 2022.
“Solar power thus presents a tremendous opportunity for the region to attain energy independence and earn significant revenue by exporting electricity to large demand centers in North India,” said an informed source.
Currently, Jammu and Kashmir does not enjoy a respectable standing in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. According to a recent report, the state has less than 500 KW of solar power capacity installed. This is in comparison to over 2,200 MW solar power capacity installed across the country till January 2014. The state has managed to utilize only 10 percent of the small hydro power potential available and has no wind energy projects installed.

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