Winter Schedule Continues in Summer

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Srinagar: Even after reopening of durbar in Srinagar, which officially marks the commencement of summer in Kashmir, the woeful power cuts of winter-schedule continue to haunt people as the Power Development Department (PDD) has failed in timely revision of the curtailment program.
It is for the first time in the past over two decades that the PDD has failed to improve the power supplies in summer. While the people continue to face inconvenience, the unduly long power cuts are affecting tourism industry at a time when the government is desperately trying to woo tourists to Kashmir.
As of now, the non-metered areas, which constitute over 60 percent of PDD’s clientele in the Valley, face 56 hours of scheduled curtailment a week, while the metered areas bear with at least three hours of off period a day. The unscheduled power cuts only add to this darkness.
Every day, on an average, the non-metered areas, including the densely populated old City, face at least eight hours of power cuts.
This includes, twice a week evening curtailment, which lasts from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, apart from the 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM twice a week power cut. In such areas, the power equally remains off from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM alternately. There’s also a nightlong 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM off, a week.
Given the persistent curtailment, the people find their lives miserable. “We are even not able to watch news on TV as the power remains off for most part of the day, while our children are unable to concentrate on studies properly in the evening hours,” said Gowhar Kundangar of Naid Kadal.
The Jamia Market Traders Federation President Javaid Ahmed Zargar told Kashmir Observer that business activities in entire Shahr-e-Khaas have been affected due to these power curtailments.
The scene in the metered areas, which mostly include the posh civil lines in the city, and towns elsewhere, is equally messy.  “Basically there’s no power curtailment schedule, as we witness some three to five hours of power cuts a day,” said Zarina Showkat a housewife from Peer Bagh.
While the power curtailment in non-metered areas during summers is supposed to be halved, officials said there’s to be no curtailment in the metered areas. But respite is awaited, this season.
The Kashmir Inc, while expressing serious concern over the power plight said it was affecting the business activities, particularly the tourism sector. “Since floods, Kashmir has been struggling for revival of business activities and instead of taking remedial measures the government is putting the businessmen to more of trouble through pesky power cuts,” said Secretary General, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries(KCCI), Faiz Bakshi.
Bakshi, who is also a prominent hotelier, said the tourism sector was worst-hit. “Poor power actually affects the repute of our hospitality, because tourists end up complaining about poor services, when electricity is the actual culprit,” Bakshi explained.
The KCCI said it was high time for personal intervention of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “She must personally look into the matter to get rid of the power woes, otherwise it will affect entire business season,” the KCCI cautioned.
Officials said conventionally the PDD was supposed to revise the curtailment schedule in April. “We are already late by a month,” admitted a top official in the Civil Secretariat.
Interestingly, the power curtailment awaits revision when the demand for power supply has already gone down. “After the chilly spell of winter when we use more of heating gadgets, the demand  for power starts going down from spring itself whereas during summers its minimal,”  explained a retired Chief Engineer PDD asking not be named.
The Valley is facing power woes at a time when the Chief Minister has directed the PDD to improve supplies and to equally avoid unscheduled power cuts.
When contacted the Chief Engineer, PDD, Bashir Khan, said the problem was being looked into. “We are asking the transmission people to give feedback, after which future course of action can be decided,” Khan said.

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