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J&K govt gives another power shock

india Updated: Apr 29, 2013 18:39 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times
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It seems the National Conference-Congress coalition government never meant to fulfill what its election manifesto promised to people some five years ago.

At least the grim status of power scenario since the government took over in January 2009 in the hydro-energy-rich state depicts the same.

In yet another case of arbitrary decision-making, the state's electricity regulatory commission (SERC) has approved power development departments' proposal of another 8.5% hike in tariffs in the state, despite the latter failing to provide enough power for what it charges people.

"Hike has been approved. We will be making all the details public on Tuesday," an official of SERC said.

Kashmir has been undergoing an unprecedented daily curtailment schedule of 10 to 15 hours for the past one month, even though the water levels in rivers and streams of the state have increased as spring sun started melting snow in mountains.

The blackout in the Valley was despite the fact that the government increased the power tariffs by a staggering 65 to 78% in the past four years. And adding the fresh hike, the power tariffs in non-metered areas (read economically backward) have increased by 24 to 225% since 2008 elections.

Also, the metered areas in the state have experienced 33 to 100% per-unit hike during the same period. To put the above in common man's language, a small shopkeeper in a non-metered area with a usage of 1/4kW will pay Rs 89 per month this financial year, as against Rs 40 in 2006-07. And for those with 1 kW to 2 kW of load, the tariffs have been enhanced to Rs 1,041per month from Rs 320 in 2006-07.

It was the National Conference in 2008 election campaign that coined the famous meter todo, heater jodo (smash meters and use heaters) slogan while attacking the Peoples' Democratic Party's policy of installing electricity meters across the state.

Ironically, the state government in the recently convened assembly session in Jammu informed that PDD managed a 37% increase in revenue in 2012.

For a 24-hour power supply, the state has a total power requirement of around 1500 MW at peak hours. The state is able to provide only 1,000 MW (out of which it buys 70% from NHPC which is producing around 1560 MW of power in the state with many more projects having a capacity of around 700 MW under construction or almost complete).

Kashmir has a power generation capacity of 20,000 MW but is unable to meet its own demand owing to inefficient governments and bureaucracy. The state has been demanding the Prime Minister to initiate the process of return of all projects set up by NHPC which have already paid back their capital with the residual price as calculated by the task force led by Dr C Rangarajan. The demand till now has not been heeded.

Tarigami criticises power tariff hike in J&K

Jammu and Kashmir unit of CPI(M) on Monday criticised the state government's approvalfor fresh hike in power tariff and demanded immediate reversal of the "unjustified" decision.

"The unjustified decision should be rescinded immediately as otherwise the same is bound to add to the sufferings of people in the state," state secretary of CPI(M) MY Tarigami said in a statement here.

The fresh hike of around eight per cent in power tariff is directly going to hit lakhs of consumers in the state who have witnessed an unprecedented and an arbitrary hike in power tariff in past few years, he claimed.

Referring to some media reports, Tarigami termed it unfortunate alleging the consumers in metered as well as non metered areas have experienced sky touching hikes in power tariffsince 2006-2007.

He expressed strong reservations over the reports that the hike has been put at just two per cent as far as the government departments are concerned even after these departments being the major defaulters on power dues.

"Power position in rural areas continues to be grim and far from satisfactory. The government has no rationale to hike tariffs without improving power supply position in the rural areas," he said.

Tarigami said the increase in fuel prices has already put pressure on the poor especially BPL consumers and any move to hike power tariff would amount to breaking their backbone.