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Fond of blaming consumers, PDD failed to upgrade infrastructure to better power scenario

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 05: Despite claims by the government about spending a hefty sum on upgrading, Kashmir Valley still lacks the required infrastructure for smooth power supply to the consumers.

For the last several years, the government has been claiming that hundreds of crores of rupees were spent on augmentation of power infrastructure.
Last year, the Government of India said Rs 8,000 crore was released to boost power sector in the state.

However, the valley is still battling the infrastructure shortage, resulting in power crisis.

 

As per the government documents, the total number of consumers in Kashmir is 9.65 lakh with a requirement of 1,332.04 MW fulfilled through 242 receiving stations.

However, only 42 per cent of consumers have been provided with meters.

An official of Power Development Department said the government has failed to upgrade the existing system in grid stations in Kashmir.
“The government recently approved Rs 146.12 crore for existing system in various grid stations where in 21 grid stations are being renovated either for upgrading also due to technological growth,” the official said.

The official said there were several projects that have not been completed in the last so many years.

One such project was Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for rural electrification. The project was to cost around Rs 800 crore
The money, the official said, was to be utilised in the villages of Anantnag, Budgam, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, and Kupwara districts in the valley.

Tenders for the project, he said, were floated multiple times since October 2016, until the two companies turned up to bag the project.

However, following disclosure about the companies’ “poor track record in other states” the project was stalled, the official said.

The official said that there is an immense load on Pampore and Zainakote power grids from where electricity is being supplied to Srinagar, Ganderbal, and Pulwama districts.

However, there are so many grid stations, where the work has been going on for the last so many years.

One such project is Alastang grid station, on which the work was started eight years earlier. The project has not been completed, which could have helped the power scenario in Kashmir.

The work on Alastang grid station was started in 2010 for transmission of electricity to Ganderbal district. “The two power grids face overloading resulting in frequent power cuts in Srinagar and Ganderbal districts. Presently, the Ganderbal gets electricity from Zainakote grid station and remains overloaded,” the official said.

“Had the Alastang grid station been completed, it would have reduced load on two existing power grids and helped the state to upgrade the power supply in the valley,” the official said.

Similarly, Delina grid stations have to be augmented to cater to north Kashmir.

The PDD also has to complete a power grid station the foundation of which was laid ten years ago in Bandipora.

The transmission line supposed to feed that grid is incomplete and prevents the supply of reliable power to households in that region.
“If the department gets these projects done by next year, then it can focus on future and prevent Kashmir from facing another power crisis,” the official said.

The official said that existing transformers and power lines are also in bad shape. “There are technical snags in electricity due to poor power infrastructure,” the official added.

Chief Engineer PDD, Hashmat Qazi, admitted there was a lack of infrastructure.“Government is working on it,” the Chief Engineer said.

He, however, said it was also responsibility of consumers to use electricity judiciously, so that people provided uninterrupted power supply.


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UN chief could discuss Kashmir issue at UNGA: UN spokesman

Press Trust of India

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is likely to use the opportunity of discussions during the high-level UN General Assembly session that begins here next week to raise the Kashmir issue, the UN chief’s spokesperson has said.

Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric during the daily press briefing here on Thursday said that the UN chief has underscored the need for dialogue as the only way to resolve the issue and, “as part of the solution for the current crisis in Kashmir, to make sure that human rights aspects are very much dealt with, as well.”

“…On Kashmir, the Secretary General… has said previously, he remains engaged. I think he will also use the opportunity of discussions during the General Assembly to raise it,” Dujarric said, responding to a question on the situation in Kashmir.

 

On Wednesday, Guterres emphasised that “dialogue” between India and Pakistan is an “absolute essential element” for reaching a solution on the Kashmir issue, and said his good offices are available should both sides ask for it and called for full respect of human rights.

“Well, our capacity is related to good offices, and good offices can only be implemented when the parties accept it. And, on the other hand, it relates to advocacy, and the advocacy was expressed and will be maintained,” Guterres said during his press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly session.

Guterres was asked by a Pakistani journalist about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and what will he do to bring a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“I go on with a clear opinion that human rights must be fully respected in the territory, and I go on with the clear opinion that dialogue between India and Pakistan is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the problem,” he said.

India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.

The UN Secretary General has also repeatedly asserted that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York on September 27. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to speak on the same day.

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Amid Kashmir tensions, India will participate at SAARC meeting in New York

Press Trust of India

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NEW DELHI: Amid heightened Indo-Pak tensions, India will participate at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, officials said on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will be present in the US next week and will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Officials said India will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation foreign ministers meeting that is scheduled for September 26.

 

The meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA could bring Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi face to face for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.

Asked about a possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart as well as the future of the SAARC regional grouping, Jaishankar, at a press conference earlier this week, had said, “if and when I meet Pakistani Foreign Minister, we will see at that time what happens”.

The SAARC is about regional cooperation and that refers to trade, MFN, connectivity etc.

, he had said, adding that now every member knows which country is promoting SAARC and which one is impeding it.

Last year, then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, usually held on the sidelines of the UNGA.

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Plea alleges detention of children in Kashmir, SC seeks report

Agencies

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The Supreme Court on Friday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the alleged detention of children in Kashmir during curbs following the scrapping of Article 370 in the state on August 5.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing child right activists Inakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha who have alleged detention of children in Kashmir, had on September 16 told the apex court that people in the Valley are not able to approach the high court there.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would entertain the petition regarding alleged detention of children in Kashmir as the plea has raised “substantial issues” regarding minors. The top court directed the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file a report before it within a week on the issue.

 

The Supreme Court also said it had received a report from the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and claims that people are unable to access the court there are not supported.

“We have received the report from the chief justice (of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) which does not support your statement,” the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the petitioners.

The Supreme Court also sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea challenging detention of five persons in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, to file his response.

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