PUBLIC FUMES OVER POWER CUTS; PDD SAYS SERVICE UNLIKELY TO IMPROVE TILL FEB
Srinagar, Jan 03: The power scenario in Kashmir has turned from bad to worse as the state’s Power Development Department (PDD) is following its whims and desires rather than the designated curtailment schedule of providing electricity.
The situation remains so despite the Centre, last month, announcing an additional grant of over 700 MWs to the state.
Sources, however, say the grant won’t provide any relief to the people as the state government did not have the required capacity to transmit the additional power supply.
“One of the factors responsible for this sad situation is the existing transmission system that has not the sufficient carrying capacity from the northern grid,” a source in PDD said.
As such, common people have been left to fend for themselves as the erratic power supply has made lives miserable.
Residents of at least a dozen metered and non-metered areas of the summer capital and a few other districts expressed their anger over the unpredictable power supply, which they claim is the poorest they have experienced in recent years.
For instance, locals of Srinagar’s Safa Kadal and its peripheries including Sekidafar, Ganderpora, Zari Masjid, Waniwar, Noorbagh, Rathpora and Malik Saab are livid with the supply.
“We only receive around four hours of electricity, at times it is six. Almost every day we have to eat our supper under lantern light,” says Umar Rashid, a resident of Safa Kadal periphery.
Rashid’s, like most old-city areas, has not been metered yet.
Hardly a kilometre away from where Rashid lives, Barbarshah has a different tale of woes.
“Aes che aasaan dohoi waer (each day we face curtailment during evening hours),” says Irfan, a middle-aged man, whose home is not more than a 500 metres away from city-centre Lal Chowk.
In local parlance, “Waer”, when it comes to electricity in Kashmir, is used for a scheduled cut-off of power during evening hours, mostly from 6 pm till 10 pm, when people need it the most.
Traditionally, only non-metered areas used to witness “waer” once or twice a week.
“We face it seven days a week,” claims Irfan.
“How can we wait until 10 pm that too of winters to have our supper? We are done with our food and chores by 9:30 pm. We don’t wait for it (electricity) anymore,” he says.
Furious with the poor supply, residents of Munawar, an area close by Barbarshah, blocked movement of traffic on the busy crossing in the uptown city for nearly an hour on Wednesday.
They, eventually, were appeased by cops, on whose ‘assurance’ the locals dispersed.
Go up the city, residents in areas like Natipora, Mehjoor Nagar, Padshahi Bagh, Nowgam, Chanapora and the like count only six to eight hours of electricity.
“That too in patches, like a sub-schedule within that schedule that they are supposed to follow. So, if they are supposed to resume it (electricity supply) from 9 am to 12:30 during the day, they will still cut it in 15 minute or so intervals. We sometimes feel, they take pleasure switching the supply on and off,” says Bilal Haroon, a resident of Chinar Lane in Natipora.
Irate comments, quips, and ‘this-is-the-limit’ remarks against PDD, was the response of many other residents of Nowgam, Dalgate, Magarmal Bagh, Batamaloo, Rainawari, Ellahi Bagh, Habba Kadal and Habak this reporter spoke with.
Chadoora’s Sogam and Anantnag’s main town has a similar tale to tell. All claiming that PDD hardly follows any schedule.
Chief Engineer PDD, Shehnaz Goni, however, refuses to trust the people’s statements.
“I don’t believe that any area from entire Kashmir gets less than 8 hours of electricity. About unscheduled curtailments, we do face such situation when there’s overloading in areas,” she told The Kashmir Monitor.
Asked would there be any improvement in the supply or should people expect the same or worse, she said: “The supply situation would remain the same, at least for this month. May be we will see some improvement in February.”