Srinagar: The electricity crisis in the Himalayan region, which was a norm till August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate the so-called special status of J&K and divided it into two Union Territories — has become a history in ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’.
The proactive steps taken by the present regime and liberal funding provided by the Centre has put the Himalayan region on path of becoming self reliant vis-a-vis power generation.
Recently, the Union Power Ministry sanctioned a phase-I package of Rs 5641.91 crore for complete revamping of the power distribution infrastructure under Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) in both urban and rural areas of J&K. Of the sanctioned amount under Phase-I, Jammu Power Development Corporation Limited will get Rs 2807.70 crore and Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited will receive Rs 2834.21 crore to undertake the works that remained stuck in one or other wrangle for seven decades.
Under Phase-I, projects related to smart pre-paid metering and loss reduction/infrastructure creation will be implemented. Modernisation works will be funded separately under Phase-II.
The J&K Government has submitted an investment plan of Rs 12,922 crore under RDSS to remove all supply constraints in the distribution sector to supply 24×7 quality electricity to every household, and the Centre is ensuring that the administration in the Union Territory succeeds in its endeavour.
The implementation of Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) in J&K aims at making the power sector vibrant in the Union Territory. The scheme envisages improving the operational efficiency of the Power Department, bringing in greater financial viability, implementing smart pre-paid metering system, reducing the AT&C losses and strengthening infrastructure for providing reliable, affordable and quality power supply to consumers.
The Power Department has embarked on a mission to install 14,07,045 pre-paid smart meters, re-augment distribution of transformers, bifurcate lengthy feeders, segregate agricultural feeders, replace old/frayed conductors; install capacitor bank at 66/11kV and 33/11kV substations for voltage regulation and to lay underground cables to prevent pilferage and power disruptions. All these steps will strengthen the electricity system- production, transmission, distribution and connection.
Power sector overhauled
The government during the past three years has worked on a mission mode to develop new power infrastructure and improve the existing one to meet the power demands of the people in the Union Territory. Despite facing all odds the Power Department has been able to achieve last mile connectivity and 100 per cent saturation of the Central Sector Scheme of Universal Household Electrification. More than 6500 new distribution transformers have been installed and reliability of power distribution has been ensured in both rural and urban areas.
The transmission and distribution capacity has been increased. Additional capacity of 1275 MVA has been added to Kashmir by constructing six new grid sub-stations of 220 and 132 KVA. Fifty four new receiving stations have been installed and 48 receiving stations upgraded. The resources for providing electricity to a large population have been strengthened by spending a total of Rs 1451 crore. The grievances and complaints of the consumers are being redressed in the shortest possible time through an effective feedback system, grievance redressal mechanism and 24X7 call center of the Power Department.
The initiatives that have been taken during the past three years have proven beyond doubt that the former political regimes didn’t pay much attention towards reforming the power sector. The helmsmen for 70-years kept on telling the people that the power scenario cannot improve and they will have to live with the unscheduled power cuts and low voltage forever. The politicians it seemed were not interested in reforming this vital sector.
In January 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir Government signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to make J&K power surplus and to attract the investment of Rs 35000 crore into the Union Territory. The MoUs were signed for implementation of much awaited mega hydro power projects, including 850 MW Ratle HEP and 930 MW Kirthai-II HEP besides execution of long pending Sawalkot HEP (1856 MW), Uri-I (Stage-II) (240 MW) and Dulhasti (Stage-II) (258 MW). Besides signing the MOUs, nineteen important projects of J&K Power Department aimed at greater generation, efficient transmission and better distribution of power supply in J&K were also inaugurated. Since then there has been no looking back.
The Himalayan region is capable of generating 14,867 Mega Watt power but during the past 70-years the erstwhile State was only able to generate 3504 MW electricity. In the coming years the power generation is all set to double.
Fake narratives punctured
Till the abrogation of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution of India, Kashmir based politicians used to claim that J&K’s Hydel resources were being plundered. According to them National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) was responsible for the dismal power scenario in the erstwhile State. The National Conference as well as the Peoples Democratic Party wanted NHPC to return three power projects 690-MW Salal, 480-MW Uri (1) and 390-MW Dulhastito Jammu and Kashmir.
The leaders of these parties had created a notion that once these power projects are returned J&K would become self-reliant and it would end the power crisis. They created a fake narrative just to hoodwink the people. They were aware that without the Centre’s help and funding the power sector in J&K cannot survive. Instead of telling the truth to the people they used to raise the issue of power projects every now and then. By doing so they covered up their failures as neither the NC nor PDP during its tenure could do much to reform this all important sector. The leaders of these parties relied on fake slogans and rhetoric to keep people busy.
They never made an attempt to make the power sector strong had they done so it would have meant ease of living, industrialisation and employment generation. None of the rulers till 2019 could provide uninterrupted power supply to J&K. In winter power cuts used to be a routine in Kashmir, while in summer Jammu region used to face a similar situation but J&K’s transition into a Union Territory proved to be a blessing for the people as the things started to fall in place.
Abrogation of the so-called J&K’s special status changed the entire scenario. Ones who ruled J&K by peddling lies and blaming New Delhi for the woes of people stand exposed as the Centre has put in all the efforts to make J&K self-reliant in every sector and has laid an unshakeable foundation of ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’.