Kashmir Residents See No Relief From Power Outages

Protest against power shortage continued for the third consecutive day in Srinagar's Basant Bagh on Wednesday. KO Photo, Abid Bhat 

Srinagar- There seems to be no relief in sight for the residents of Kashmir facing electricity outages for the past several days, with the authorities citing the early onset of summer and sub-optimal hydro power generation as reasons for unscheduled power cuts.

Kashmir is going through one of its worst power crisis as unscheduled and prolonged cuts in supply in the holy month of Ramazan have left the people distraught.

Officials in the electricity department said the supply in April was around 900 to 1100 MW while the demand was 1600 MW, thereby, creating a deficit which has forced them to go for unscheduled power cuts.

People in the valley complain that power supply often get disrupted at the time of sehri (when pre-dawn meals to begin the day's fast are taken) and iftar (when the fast is broken).

"There has been hardly a day when we have had electricity at the time of sehri or iftar. During the day, the situation gets worse. We have never faced such a situation before," Javid Ahmad, a resident of Ganderbal, said.

Meanwhile, leaders of opposition parties have been blaming the administration for failing to provide relief to the residents.

Former J-K chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah said seeking electricity was the right of the people and that the situation in the Union Territory was contrary to the tall claims of the administration about development.

"It is our right to get electricity. They (the administration) made tall claims about development in J-K. Let them show where it is," Omar said here.

The NC leader said the power situation was no better in Jammu.

"I was in Jammu a few days ago and right before 'sehri' and 'iftar', the electricity was snapped. The situation is similar here (in the Kashmir valley)," he added.

Abdullah alleged that the power department looks for excuses to snap the electricity.

"When (the director of Meteorological Department) Sonam Lotus forecasts winds in the valley for the next day, the power department happily snaps the electricity right away. There are no winds, but there is no electricity still," he said.

The power scenario is not better even in Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar where many areas are metered.

"In winters, we used to get power supply as per the schedule. But as soon as we entered the holy month, we began facing issues in electricity supply. We pay bills on time, but rarely have we had power (supply) at sehri and iftar. This has created a lot of inconvenience, Mohammad Yusuf, a local, said.

The situation was far worse in non-metered areas.

"We have more hours of power cut than supply. Most of the evenings, our areas go dark," Umar Ahmad, a resident of downtown Srinagar said.

The locals have been regularly taking to social media to flag their concerns. However, it has not helped, they alleged.

The Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) said load served during April has been around 900 to 1,100 MW against a demand of 1600 MW.

"This deficit has forced the corporation to go for unscheduled cuts," it said.

The early onset of summer in the rest part of the country has led to highest ever power demand. Besides, reduced thermal power generation coupled with sub-optimal generation of hydro power due to less rains has resulted in deficient power availability leading to unscheduled and prolonged power cuts, it added.

It said hydro power generation currently is around 50 per cent of the installed capacity and load supplied by the KPDCL is in the range of 900-1,100 MWs against the peak demand of 1,600 MW.

"Attempts have been made to fill the deficit gap through peaking up of hydro power plants to meet peak demand load at sehri and iftaar times," it said.

KPDCL said the situation is going to be the same in coming days till availability improves nationally and hydroelectric generation picks up.

"Kashmir power discom is trying to cope up with this unprecedented situation by making all efforts to keep supply at critical times of sehri and iftar by rationalisation of allocation skewed in favour of domestic consumer base," the corporation said, asking consumers to tackle the situation by way of judicious use of electricity especially in peak hours.

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