Preparing for Winter

IN a statement that would have reassured the people in J&K, Chief Secretary Dr Arun K Mehta said on Thursday that a vibrant, disruption-free winter remains the topmost priority of the government this year. According to Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation the power requirement in Kashmir has already touched a peak load of 1653 MW which is nearly 100 MW higher than the peak load of 1546 MW last year. Also, the power supply to the Kashmir valley this year is said to be of the order of 5719.6 million units which is an increase of 12 percent over the previous year. The chief secretary, on his part, directed all officers to undertake inspection of all transformers by November 30 to ensure good health of transformers, besides simultaneously inspecting all HT/LT fuses within 15 days. The objective of the inspection is to lower the transformer damage from 20 percent to 10 percent. The chief secretary also asked the officers to provide 24X7 power supply to Gulmarg and Pahalgam, besides ensuring that winter tourist spots including Sonamarg and Doodpathri receive adequate electric supply in the upcoming cold months.

Dr Mehta’s assurances will be welcomed by the people in the union territory, especially in the Valley, who have already been reeling under newly announced scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. Being a state with long, extended winters, the administration in Kashmir is expected to have a pool of knowledge, experience and expertise to deal with the situation. In the event of a snowfall, power and water supply are the first to be disrupted and snow clearance operations are lax.  One expects that unlike many times in the past Power department will be better prepared to deal with the situation. The utility has usually been the target of the public ire, both on the street and online for its inability to immediately restore electricity once the Valley is snowed in.  There is a widespread belief that the department does not plan ahead for a snowstorm. But here is hoping that the administration pleasantly surprises us with more efficient handling of a bad turn in the weather.  A good performance this time around will be a major boost for the UT government.

Response to a snowstorm is always a major test of the responsiveness of the administration. It will help erase the memory of the bitter experiences in the past. Considering Dr Mehta has already held the meeting on improving the electricity supply in the UT at a time when the plains in Kashmir Valley are yet to be lashed by snow, it shows the government is serious and preparing ahead for any turn for worse in the weather. Here’s hoping that this time the words are translated into deed.

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