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Power woes

The winters have just beckoned and with it have stepped in the infamous electricity woes. Despite a long line of promises on paper, the bottom-line remains that Kashmir and its people have no choice but to live with this issue that the successive governments have never been serious at resolving. It is early days of a long winter ahead and people are complaining of witnessing up to 8 hours of erratic and unscheduled power cuts. Metered and non-metered areas alike, the issue aggravates at key hours triggering people’s ire. The situation remains so even as the Lieutenant Government Manoj Sinha last month directed the Power Development Department (PDD) to ensure that the people of the valley get adequate supply of electricity. The LG had directed the officers to prepare a comprehensive contingency plan in order to meet the winter requirements which witnesses a heavy load. He had asked the Deputy Commissioners to coordinate with various agencies on issues of water and power supply in the winter months. Manoj Sinha also asked for maintaining a close liaison with the people at ground to get first-hand information about the problems being faced by them viz-a-viz the power and also hold regular media briefings in order to get the requisite feedback about the remedial measures to be  undertaken. But so far in the last one week, none of it has taken any shape and the people continue to face powercuts. On top of it, the PDD so far has not officially announced any curtailment schedule which in turn itself is akin to keeping people in dark. Earlier the department used to cry about the huge liabilities it had accrued over the years but recently the Jammu and Kashmir government liquidated a whopping Rs 11,000 crore of power purchase liabilities by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Power Finance Corporation and REC limited. The move was made possible after the authorities took advantage of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (ANBA). According to officials, the MoU signing ceremony was presided over by Principal Secretary, PDD and Information departments, Rohit Kansal. They said that under ANBA, J&K was sanctioned a loan assistance amount of Rs 11024.47 crore against liquidation of power purchase liabilities. After signing of this MoU the first tranche of Rs 5580 crore would be disbursed instantly and the rest amount in second tranche shortly after spending the released amount. The loan amount is jointly provided by RECL and PFC India under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. Once released the entire liability of power will be liquidated. Officials added that that the move will substantially help in improving the optimum power purchasing mechanism in J&K besides better power management here. One is compelled to ask if so many things are happening on paper, why isn’t the common man seeing its benefits. Why is Kashmir again bracing for winters with erratic electricity and long dark evening hours? The administration is expected act responsibly and fix the long-pending issue that pertains to a key facility people expect it to provide seamlessly.