Capital’s Tourist Hub Reeling Under Darkness, Tourists Frightened

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SRINAGAR — Come winter and city’s otherwise bustling Dal Lake Boulevard, dotted with hotels and souvenir shops, turns into a ghost town as tourists shut themselves up in their hotel rooms and traders down their shutters ahead of dusk.

Iconic boulevard is deserted by 5 PM as darkness engulfs entire stretch from Dalgate to Nehru Park due to power outage.

Pitch dark boulevard scares locals and tourists alike, claim local traders who slam authorities for ignoring the tourist hub. 

There is no schedule for power supply. We can’t run our business on generators when fuel prices have soared sky high, said Firdaus Ahmad a local manager. 

“We urge authorities to come up with winter power schedule so that consumers know when the electricity will remain off,” said Bashir Ahmad a local hotelier.

The area is metered and inhabitants say they clear bills regularly yet we face power cuts almost after every two to three hours. 

“This year we are facing unprecedented power cuts of 14 hours a week during peak time of 6 pm to 10 pm unlike in past when it was hardly an hour or two a week during evening hours in metered areas,” Abdul Rasheed Khan, a retired engineer with the PDD said.

“After Durbar move the power cuts have become more frequent. It seems we have to wait for Durbar to return to Srinagar to see the light back,” said Rameez Ahmad, a resident of Dalgate

Yasin Khan, President Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Forum (KTMF) smacks a design alleging while Jammu was getting uninterrupted electricity during evenings, Valley was reeling under darkness at a time when it was needed here the most”.  

“Kashmir tourist trade is on the lowest ebb and with non-availability of electricity it will hit the sector further,” Khan said.

“When a hotel is not able to provide warm water and heating to guests who will stay in it in this chilly weather?” he asked.

Farooq Kuthoo, General Secretary of Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) said the tourists have been very upset due to non-availability of electricity in the area also called tourist district of the city. 

“Many times we have taken up this issue with authorities that at least tourist area should get required power supply but it fell on deaf ears, “he said.

In Srinagar, the metered areas have been divided into three slots, where people will face two-hour power cuts in the morning, afternoon and evening. 

In non-metered areas, people have to face three-hour curtailments divided into three slots that include morning, afternoon and evening shift.

When KO raised this issue with the Chief Engineer (Maintenance), Power Development Department Kashmir, Hashmat Qazi, he said that the Dalgate and Boulevard areas were getting “slightly better” power supply then rest of the city.

“There is a curtailment of six hours in a day. We have the capacity of 1250 MW of electricity and we are providing more than that and beyond that we can not do anything,” Qazi said. 

KO TAKE

Sources in the PDD say the power crisis will continue to dog Kashmir as the department lacks handling capacity and there is no effort from the government towards addressing the basic problem of transmission and distribution system constraints.

Public by and large are aware of the systemic disorder Kashmir suffers from but all they expect PDD to do is publish a realistic power schedule so that the consumers know when and how long they will get the electricity supply.

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