Kashmir is likely to face acute shortage of power this winter again as two key projects that would have increased the energy handling capacity within the Valley by around 500-MW haven’t been completed, even as the energy requirement keeps rising.
Against unrestricted power requirement of around 1900-MW, the power development department is able to handle only 1250-MW within the region owing to deficient grid infrastructure, leaving deficit of 650-MW.
Last year, after a series of reports in Kashmir Post over years of “sabotage” in completion of two centrally-funded grid stations—Alstang and Budgam which were approved in 2006—the then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had set eight-month deadline for completion of Alstang while chairing a meeting in November.
The PDD authorities were also asked to complete pending works on Budgam grid which is functioning partially for the past many years.
Once completed, the two grids would have enhanced the capacity at local level by around 500-MW, sufficient to tide over the present demand.
While the deadline for Alstang grid has already lapsed, the project, an official said, could take another two to three months for completion. Similarly the pending works on transmission line on Budgam grid haven’t been completed so far.
“The power shortage may actually worsen this winter given the fact that valley witnesses annual increase in power demand by at least eight to 10 percent. While the energy requirement has gone up, the capacity to handle power at regional level is same as we had last year,” said an official.
Another official said if Alstang is not commissioned by December, the situation may become far worse compared to last year.
For the past few weeks, Kashmir has been witnessing a regular dip in temperature as winter is approaching fast. This change in weather shoots up the power demand as people are forced to use heating appliances at homes to keep themselves warm.
This gap in supply and demand is managed by the government through an unwritten rule of unscheduled and long power cuts, apart from the scheduled cuts.
Every year, as Durbar (the seat of governance) shifts to Jammu as a bi-annual practice, the power supply deteriorates with each passing day.
Commissioning of Alstang grid would alone increase grid capacity at local level by 300-MW.
“We are hopeful to complete the project in next two months,” said chief engineer (systems and operations, PDD) Javaid Ahmad.
He however said that there were some issues including land acquisition with Zainakot-Alstang transmission line, connecting to the grid. “We are hopeful all issues will be resolved,” he said.
He said Budgam grid was operational partially and feeding areas from Budgam to Khansahab and Chadoora.
“The works including completion of transmission line were pending owing to delay in revision of funds under PMRP,” he said.
He said the department was targeting completion of Alstang and going for augmentation of Delina station in northern Kashmir. “We are hopeful it will help us in handling the situation,” he said.
An official said there were “right of way” issues with the transmission line which the department hasn’t been able to resolve for the past many years owing to stiff opposition of the locals to allow the line through residential areas. “That is the main problem,” the official said.
He however acknowledged that if Alstang grid isn’t completed by mid-December the situation would become “far worse” compared to last winter.
“The capacity to handle power at local level continues to be a constraint at this point of time when the energy demand is rising with each passing day,” the official said.