WITH the onset of winters, the Power Development Department has hit the headlines again, and this time for more than one bad reason. Winter is yet to be in its full swing but electricity has started playing hide and seek already; giving unremitting trouble to the common masses. Social media denizens are aghast and lamenting midst the winter woes which are only aggravated by the improper, intermittent and irregular supply of electricity. In addition to scheduled power cuts, the additional problems which hit the valley in winters are unscheduled power cuts, frequent faults, voltage sags and other systemic disturbances.
Winter is the time of the year when electricity is needed the most and consumption in terms of heating gadgets becomes inevitable. Ironically , an order was circulated a few days ago by the Ganderbal administration banning the purchase and utility of heating gadgets — flying in the face of common sense. The order had to be revoked following public reaction but the entire drama has revealed the extent to which administration can go in order to blanket its own misgivings and caring a naught about the inconvenience and miseries of people.
Let us try to understand and make sense of the power curtailment schedule issued by JKPDCL recently. It announced a four-and-a-half-hour curtailment for metered areas, whereas the non-metered areas are set to face a load shedding of eight hours daily in winters. Experience tells us that the curtailment in winters far exceeds the notified hours and there are days when electricity is nowhere in sight. Even if it be conceded that eight hour curtailment will be followed in non-metered areas, does one understand the magnitude and the spectrum of problems people are expected to face? What is it that benumbs our policy makers and the concerned departments to the unforeseen miseries of people and why does administration fail to take cognizance of public grievances?
There are patients surviving on electricity operated life supporting devices; students, who have to attend online classes; offices, which depend on electricity like life blood. All these activities come to a literal halt with disturbance in electric supply and people are pushed to the abyss of darkness. Winters in Kashmir turn nightmarish with temperatures touching sub-zeros and electricity supply ripped now and then.
People believe, and genuinely so, that the electricity generated in Kashmir illuminates the rest of the country while the people of Kashmir continue to reel under darkness. Statistics bear witness to the fact that our total generation reserves are in excess of the domestic demand but for the fact that bigger and larger units are owned by centrally owned companies, we get a meagre share from our own stock .People are blamed and part of this blame holds water that people restore to pilferage, misuse and wastage of electricity.
Observations reveal that the actual consumption of electricity far exceeds the load recorded on documents and the agreements made with the consumers. But how true are authorities in their intent and might be that they are hiding behind the facade of pilferage to escape their responsibilities. Why do they fail to take measures to put an end to the menace of pilferage and why is it that despite there are reports from ground that patrolling personnel are hand in glove with people and guide them in their pilferage tactics. The takeaway is that we might not downplay the malpractice of pilferage and misuse but that can’t be used as a shield by the department to cover up its own misgivings and justify the irrational and troublesome power cuts.
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