Srinagar, Nov 13: Kashmir is currently facing an unprecedented power crisis as the Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) resorts to extended load shedding, surpassing the scheduled power curtailment.
Locals report enduring power cuts exceeding 10 hours, with widespread grievances about the non-adherence to curtailment schedules.
Senior KPDCL officials attribute the crisis to a peak demand of 1900 MW, intensified by the cold weather, while the available supply hovers around 1300 MW, resulting in a substantial shortfall of 600 MW.
This deficit is causing cascading effects, leading to prolonged power cuts in both metered and non-metered areas.
According to the curtailment schedule, metered areas were supposed to face 4.5 hours of power cuts, while non-metered areas were to endure 8 hours.
However, reports indicate that even metered areas are experiencing close to 8-hour power cuts, exacerbating the situation in non-metered areas.
Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta has urged the KPDCL to ensure that power cuts do not exceed 8 hours.
Nevertheless, the reality on the ground contradicts this directive, with both metered and non-metered areas facing extended outages.
The power crisis is taking a toll on the local economy, causing a decline in production and businesses incurring substantial losses.
Additionally, the prolonged power cuts pose a serious threat to patients reliant on oxygen support at home.
Residents express frustration, with one Basharat Ahmad, a resident of Soura stating, “We were promised round-the-clock power supply, and smart meters were installed to prevent pilferage. Ironically, smart-metered areas are now plunged into darkness.”
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President, Javid Tenga voiced deep concern over the inconsistent policies of KPDCL, highlighting the failure to deliver uninterrupted power despite the installation of smart meters.
A senior official from the Power Development Department (PDD) acknowledged the issue, saying, “We are striving to maintain supply levels from the previous year, but the available power is only 1300 MW, while the peak demand is 1900 MW in Kashmir. The government is grappling with substantial losses due to power purchase bills, with revenue collected from consumers falling far short of power purchase expenditures.
On average, the government is incurring losses of Rs 4000 crore in the power sector.”
The crisis underscores the need for urgent and effective measures to address the power deficit and mitigate its far-reaching consequences.
In addressing the power crisis, locals emphasise the need for the government to tackle AT&C losses, urging a focus on systemic improvements rather than placing the burden on consumers faithfully paying their bills through smart meters.