Kashmir Faces Power Discrimination, Admits PDD

Kashmir Faces Power Discrimination, Admits PDD

15 January 2014
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: The State Power Development Department (PDD) has acknowledged that Kashmir was witnessing frequent and extended power cuts citing “contingencies” in the system. “Although the Department is trying its best to adhere to the scheduled curtailment program but sometimes the contingencies arising in the northern grid result in some distress load-shedding that can’t be predicted beforehand,” PDD has informed the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) in response to a petition filed by a civil society group seeking that the “severe” curtailment schedule enforced on Kashmir be reversed. “JKPDD being a constituent of the northern grid has overall responsibility of maintaining the grid discipline. In the event of northern grid contingencies especially during low frequency conditions, the State Load Dispatch Center has to act promptly and resort to instant load-shedding,” PDD has said. On November 2, the PDD announced a revised power curtailment schedule for Kashmir in which scheduled power cuts in metered and non-metered areas have been increased to 17 and 57 hours per week respectively. The curtailment schedule triggered widespread resentment among consumers and there were protests reported from different areas of Kashmir. The petition filed before SERC by civil society member Shakeel Qalander states that the power supply to consumers in unmetered areas (in Kashmir) has dropped to less than 50 percent and “in such circumstances the consumers should be made liable to pay only 50 percent of the electricity tariff of their agreement.” He confirmed that they received a copy of the PDD’s response from the SERC. “It vindicates our stand that Kashmir is facing worst discrimination vis-a-vis power supply. We will soon come up with a detailed response,” he said. “It is denied that supply has dropped to less than 50 percent,” PDD has maintained while praying before SERC to set aside the petition. Pertinently, SERC has quasi judicial powers to regulate power distribution in J&K PDD response shows that the metered consumers in Kashmir were being discriminated vis-à-vis power supply in comparison to other regions of the state. The data provided by PDD reveals that the average scheduled curtailment hours per day for Kashmir were 8.14 hours for unmetered consumers and 2.43 hours for metered consumers. For Jammu region the average curtailment hours per day for unmetered consumers was eight hours and for metered consumers it was two hours as “distress” curtailment enforced from 33 kv feeder. “Distress load-shedding is not scheduled curtailment. Consumers in Kashmir face both scheduled and distress cuts,” said Qalander. While unmetered consumers in Kashmir face night-long power cut (10 pm to 5 am) once a week, their counterparts in Jammu were not subjected to these long cuts. Taking resort to budgetary constraints for purchasing additional energy to meet the demand, PDD has said the power purchase cost of the Department was around Rs 400 crore and the power demand was increasing at five to seven percent. To meet the demand, PDD would require strengthening and augmentation of the system for which additional Rs 1000 crore were required and another Rs 1000 crore were required to meet the expenses establishment, Operation and Maintenance cost and depreciation, the Department has said. “This makes a total budget of Rs 6000 crore annually against which the total income of the Department is Rs 2000 crore, leaving a deficit of around Rs 4000 crore annually. Unless consumers pay for the energy being consumed by them, it will become increasingly difficult to achieve acceptable efficiency levels,” the PDD response said.