JAMMU and Kashmir has been reeling under a severe power crisis over the last two weeks Power is available only for a few hours in a day. Some places get it for even a lesser time. And this too during the holy month of Ramzan. This has severely inconvenienced the people. What is more, there is no sign that the situation will improve anytime soon. In fact, the situation might get even worse before getting better. Ironically, the power shutdowns are associated with winter in Kashmir, but now we have them in spring also.
Not only that, ours is also a state that exports electricity and imports the same at a hefty cost for its own consumption. And for this, successive state governments are squarely to blame. They cannot escape the responsibility for saddling the state with an eternal power crisis. True, Indus Water Treaty has fundamentally hobbled J&K’s capacity to exploit its water resources for power generation and there is little that the union territory can do so far as righting the wrongs under IWT are concerned. But the successive governments have shown little imagination to harness the water resources within the restrictions of the treaty. Situation is unlikely to improve on this score in future.
The ongoing power outage in Jammu and Kashmir, however, is not borne out of the local factors. Several states are facing this And the reason for this is reported to be the continued heat wave, and a coal shortage at over 150 power plants. States such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh are witnessing powercuts. The coal stock position at the 173 power plants stands at 21.93 million tonnes, which, according to a report, is less than the regulatory requirement of 66.32 MT. The coal inventories, according to media reports, have dipped to the lowest since 2014 to nine days as against the Centre's mandated 24 days' worth of stocks. The heat wave, on the other hand, has exponentially increased the power demand, widening the demand-supply gap.
Kashmir, this year, has also witnessed an early onset of warmth. March turned out to be the warmest month in decades. Temporarily though, it must have raised discharge in our rivers due to early snowmelt leading to increase in the generation of hydroelectricity. But it doesn’t directly benefit J&K. Here’s hoping that the power situation improves from hereon. Going forward, as the Valley heads into summer, erratic power supply will not only adversely affect the everyday life but also the economy, and more importantly the tourism.
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