AS winter nears in Kashmir, can power shortage be far behind? It can’t be. In fact, the administration is set to announce one the early next month. The Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) has already said that a new power curtailment schedule will be out by November 10. The corporation added in no uncertain terms that the consumers might have to face longer cuts if the electricity is not used “judiciously”. There is likely to be a 4-hour power curtailment in metered areas and a 6-hour curtailment in non-metered areas, according to the corporation. And the only way to avert it is by using electricity thriftily, a demand that makes no sense if people are paying for the consumption.
There are 1300 MWs of electricity available to the Power Development Department. However, during winters, the demand shoots up to 2000 MWs. More electricity should have been imported in response to this, which would then be compensated by consumers who are now willing to pay higher prices for their usage. But successive governments have chosen not to do this. This has invariably made winters in Kashmir darker and hence harsher for the people. It also affects tourism badly which has witnessed an unprecedented boom this year with over one crore people visiting the Valley. To ensure this momentum in tourist inflow is maintained, the government should at least provide 24X7 power supply to tourist spots like Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
However, the winter’s problems are not limited just to shortage of power supply. Being a region 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 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 efficient handling of a bad turn in the weather. A good performance this time around will be a major boost for the image of the UT government.
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