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No electric poles, no overhead cables: Gulmarg, Pahalgam get European makeover

SRINAGAR:  Forget Europe, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are likely to emerge as niche tourist destinations in the country.

For the first time, the Jammu and Kashmir government has replaced electric poles and overhead wires with state-of-the-art underground cable power transmission lines in Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonamarg. 

Under Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP Urban & Rural), Power Development Department (PDD) has adopted a western model and done away with the electric poles and overhead cables in the three tourist destinations. 

Under the project, 124.98-kilometer High-tension (HT) underground cables have been laid in Pahalgam. Similarly, 90.74 kilometers of Low Tension (LT) underground cables were laid in Pahalgam.

Likewise, 99.82 kilometers of HT and 58.3 kilometers of LT lines have been laid underground in Gulmarg.  Around 50.3 kilometers of HT and 14.7 kilometers of HT have been laid underground in Sonamarg. Estimated at the cost of Rs 76.52 crore, the project has been commissioned in all the three tourist destinations.

“If you have visited Gulmarg, there were poles inside the bowl itself. It was looking shabby. So we have removed all the poles and overhead cables. Instead, we have laid underground cables. It increases reliability and electricity supply is ensured even during inclement weather. Plus it adds to the beauty of the tourist destination”, said Javed Dar, chief engineer, projects, PDD.

Sources said Lieutenant Governor was very particular about enhancing the beauty of the tourist destinations. Therefore, it was decided that poles and overhead cables which give a shabby look, will be removed and smart underground cabling would be done to give tourist destinations a new makeover.“It is a very costly affair. Even in the US, there are poles and overhead cables. The underground power transmission system is very costly.  Therefore we have restricted it to three tourist destinations in Kashmir. Plus roads in Kashmir are not that much wide for underground cabling. And whenever there is the maintenance of the road, the underground cable system would get affected,” said Dar.

Not only tourist destinations, but PDD has also gone for a makeover of the Sufi shrines to promote pilgrim tourism in the valley. 

Under Prime Minister’s Development Plan, PDD has decided to upgrade power infrastructure in shrines located in urban and rural areas with a special focus on improving the aesthetic look of these locations for promoting religious tourism.
Around 29 shrines – 19 in rural areas and 10 in urban areas – have been identified under this project. Estimated at the cost of Rs 13.92 crore, the project involves a smart power system to enhance the beauty of the shrines. Officials said work on 20 shrines has been completed.
“We have given a facelift to major shrines across Kashmir. Some shrines needed DG set back up, some needed some smart facelift. We have ensured that the shrines get a makeover,” said Dar.