Srinagar: It took more than 73 years for the people in remote Keran village on the Line of Control (LoC) to see an electric bulb glowing in the morning, and for that matter late into the night.
Under the Prime Minister’s Development Package ( PMDP) the Jammu and Kashmir government has so far electrified three villages for the first time since independence in the sector. So far, the villages on the LoC were being supplied three hours’ power through DG sets from 7 pm to 10 pm.
It took the Power Development Department (PDD) engineers two years to lay overhead cables and install poles on treacherous mountains to connect three villages with the Kralpora grid in the Kupwara district.
“It was a very difficult mission. The area remains out of bounds for six months during winter. Our engineers and field staff worked hard and connected Keran for the first time in history,” said Munir Ahmad Mir, superintending engineer, PDD.
Built at an estimated cost of Rs 6.28 crore, the 36-kilometer transmission line passes through lofty mountains, dense jungles, and treacherous passes.
“Around 939 poles were installed to carry 33 KV transmission line from Kralpora to Keran. We have set up a 33/11 KV receiving station in Keran which will cater to 1300 households in the three villages,” said Mir.
The first phase of the electrification was completed on July 12. “Keran village is now getting regular power supply from the receiving station. Two other villages will be connected within 20 days. From next month, all three villages will start receiving the regular power supply,” he said.
People are celebrating the feat as they had not seen the power supply for the last 73 years. “People’s happiness knew no bounds. They are rejoicing. Electricity is as essential as food and water,” said Mir.
However, the absence of a dedicated communication network is making things worse for the maintenance staff. Since the villages are on the LoC, they have no landline or mobile connectivity.
“In the event of fault or electricity breakdown, an employee has to travel to Kupwara. On two occasions, the line developed snag and people had to travel to Kupwara to inform us about it,” said Mir.
Winter is likely to pose a bigger challenge for the authorities given the inclement weather and closure of roads. “The area remains cut off for six months during winter. There is no communication and people cannot travel either. It is going to be a challenge for us. We are planning to take up this issue with the government. We want some mode of communication. It can be wireless or some police communication,” said Mir.