Winters Tale

IN a new electricity curtailment schedule announced by the  Power Distribution Corporation on Monday, the non-metered areas in Srinagar will face a power cut of four and a half hours from November 15 every day. The curtailment in non-metered areas will grow to eight hours a day.  The power cuts are going to make it further difficult for people to endure the harsh winter. More so, the forty day period of Chilla Kalan which will begin on December 20. That is, if the power department resorts to no unscheduled power cuts. The new schedule has been announced mechanically with little need being felt to give grounds for the decision to resort to it during what is veritably the most difficult part of the year in the Valley. The temperature in the Valley has declined steeply over the last week. This makes the use of electricity not only a source of light or warmth but perhaps, the only sign of life through the dark, cold nights and frosty, overcast days.

But government pretends as if the curtailment in winter is an accepted fact of life in the region. It could be so if it was not for the higher benchmark set by the current government in this regard. Last winter the Valley received a relatively better supply of electricity.  People expect the government to work to provide a reasonable supply of electricity so as to make it easier to deal with the harsh cold. One hardly expects the administration to pass orders banning the sale of heating gadgets.

Metered areas have a right to an uninterrupted supply as the residents pay for the electricity they consume. In past, the metered areas did receive round-the-clock supply. But this is no longer the case. While the aim, by no means, is to show the previous administrations in an uncritical positive light, people are bound to ask as to why the present administration has failed to improve upon its own performance from the previous three winters.  It is time that the administration thinks through the question and formulates an answer for the people of the state.

The debate about power in Valley, however, doesn’t stop with the availability of the electricity through winter. It is a much larger debate about the inability of the successive governments to meet the domestic demand for power out of the region’s own water resources. The issue is simple and it is this: we are a region that exports electricity but purchases power at a hefty cost for its own consumption. This calls for the government to strategize and act to ensure that if not in the near to medium future but atleast in the long term, we have adequate electricity for winter.

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