J-K: Valley in darkness as people, power department play blame game

  • Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Jan 09, 2015 19:58 IST

While people in the Valley are annoyed with the state's power development department (PDD) due to erratic power cuts and regular curtailments, the PDD on the other hand feels victimised for not being paid for whatever providing services.

"Despite paying my electricity bills on time, we still have four days of power curtailment. The curtailment is normally four to five hours a day," said Nishat, an annoyed resident living in two-storied house in Brein.

However, the PDD officials feel they are "victimised" despite providing services.

"We provide them power for a rupee and they pay less than 10 paisa in return, what business is this?" questioned a senior PDD official.

According to the PDD's schedule the power curtailment in metered areas will be for 17 hours per week, while in unmetered areas it will be 59 hours per week, which means eight-and-a-half hours per day.

PDD statistics from April 2014 to November 2014 state that the department has provided electricity worth `1,300 crores, out of which 80% of the power went to domestic users.

However, till November 2014, only Rs 150 crores were realised from domestic user payments.

"I think our department has among the worst consumers in the world. They (consumers) make an agreement with us for one kilowatt (KW) or 2 KW, and later through illegal means (wire hooking or meter tampering) use more than 5 KW. Still they blame us for not providing enough," the official said.

Couple of years back the department had asked its consumers to fill in a form declaring all the electrical appliances used by them. However, till date not even one form has been submitted.

According to PDD sources, the load in the valley is mainly from domestic users as there are not many industries in the valley. "If we go by our customer agreements, during evenings we are only required to provide 600 MW of power. However, people breach their agreements by using all different kinds of heating appliances, due to which we end up providing 1,150 MW of power. If people do not obey the agreement the sitaution cannot improve," the official said.

However, there are some areas such as Najafabad, Sonapah, Beerwah, Budgam, where the PDD accepts that the people are genuinely suffering. These aress are generally more than two kilometers away from the nearest transformer due to which they receive very weak electric current.

"Such is the strength of current in our area that we have use a candle to see if a blub is still working," said Ghulam Mohammad Mir, a Najafabad local, who for the past four years is pursuing various PDD offices to get a new transformer for the area. The area is presently surviving on solar lights.

Though the PDD concedes that the people are suffering it is not ready to take the responsibililty. "Since, 1982 our staff strength has been reduced by half, while our assets have increased five times. This affects quality and service delivery," said another PDD official.

Even separatist leaders have raised their voice over this issue in the past. "Government sells our water and electricity to other states and has left the people of Valley in darkness. This is a serious issue, which needs to be looked upon," chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had said in November last year.

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