When Winter Comes

It is for sometime now that Kashmir has been in the grip of a severe cold wave. And as has always been the case, the freezing cold is reinforced by the severe power shortage which happens to be nobody’s concern, either in the government or in the opposition. This only shows how much this seasonal power crisis has be¬come a naturalized part of our lives. So much so that the people have now grudgingly resigned themselves to the state of affairs and government doesn’t feel unduly worried about the situation either. The result is the drastic power curtailment schedule imposed through a matter-of-fact government order with unscheduled power cuts to boot. What is more, the curtailment schedule is unfair and discriminatory in its implementation across the different regions of the state. In Kashmir, the power cuts in winter have been a traditional feature.

It is true that in winter the water discharge in our rivers and streams reduces drastically which in turn leads to a diminished generation of power. So, the state government has to import more power from National Hydro Power Corporation. But this hardly ends the menace of curtailment in the Valley. According to Power Develop¬ment Department which supplies electricity to J&K, the curtailment is the result of the injudicious use of power by the people. While it is nobody’s case to defend the power pilferage by people, this is not the real question at issue. The issue is who lets them do so in the first place and get away with it. And perhaps more important question is why PDD’s ground staff lets people pilfer power. The answer to this question is something we all know. If there is pilferage of power, it is the department of power that is responsible, not the people. So, for power pilfer¬age to end, the PDD has to get into the act.

Also, unlike the preceding winters, the power shortage this winter hasn’t become the public issue that it usually does. People are not protesting and the government can’t seem to care less. This is as if when the gov¬ernment talks of “good governance”, it doesn’t include the failures on power front.

But, as the government itself knows, the problem is not the people but the ill-conceived and adhoc policies of the successive governments in the past which have forced a state with a power generation potential of an estimated 20,000 MW to live permanently with reality of power cuts through the year.

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