J&K’s Power Infrastructure Strains Under Growing Demand Despite Surplus Generation

J&K's Power Infrastructure Strains Under Growing Demand Despite Surplus Generation

A resource-rich region, Jammu and Kashmir, that produces surplus electricity from the hydro-electric projects is facing the worst power crisis in many decades during harsh winters. The tall claims of the J&K administration, directly under central government control since its reading down from a state to Union Territory since August 5, 2019, have fallen flat.

Even as Jammu and Kashmir produces a surplus of nearly 900 Mega Watts (MW) electricity from its 21 hydroelectric projects, it continues to be in the dark. As temperatures begin to plummet Kashmir Valley is already facing 14-16 hours of power cuts.

Thus, Jammu and Kashmir which produces 3188 MW of energy gets an overall share (from power harnessed by state run, NHPC run and private projects) of 1441.35 MW. To meet its own requirements, Jammu and Kashmir has to purchase power back from the Northern Power Grid Corporation.

At the root of the problem are several factors, primarily the lop-sided power sharing agreements between Jammu and Kashmir and the National Hydro Projects Corporation (NHPC), central government owned company, which offer only a minute percentage of the power generation for consumption within the state.

As against the overall production of 3146 MW of electricity, the peak power requirement in Jammu and Kashmir, as per official claims, is 2,600 MW while the supply is 1200 MW in Kashmir division and 900 MW in Jammu. Despite producing a surplus of about 900 MW, Jammu and Kashmir is facing a deficit of 500 MW of power supply. There is, however, conflicting data with regards the energy demands of Jammu and Kashmir. Some official agencies state that the demand is as high as 4000 MW.

Jammu and Kashmir is extensively dependent on hydroelectricity harnessed from rivers waters (Run of mill basis) flowing through the Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi basins.

As per official data, Out of the total generation of 3188 MW of power, 1137.68 MW is produced by the 21 power projects run by Jammu Kashmir Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC). 42.5 MW is brought in by the private sector through four projects. 2,009 MW is by National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) from seven projects – Salal (690), Uri-I (480), Dul-Hasti (390), Uri-II (240), Chutak (44), Nimo Bazgoo (45), Sewa-II (120).

Though the NHPC harnesses 2009 MW of energy, Jammu and Kashmir gets only a meagre 13 percent of it, which calculates to 261.17 MW. Rest of the power is controlled by the Northern Power Grid Corporation, a central government owned company, which then sells electricity to north Indian states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Thus, Jammu and Kashmir which produces 3188 MW of energy gets an overall share (from power harnessed by state run, NHPC run and private projects) of 1441.35 MW. To meet its own requirements, Jammu and Kashmir has to purchase power back from the Northern Power Grid Corporation.

Though J&K requires an additional purchase of about 1200 MW of energy to meet its requirement, the Jammu and Kashmir government is purchasing 700 MW from the northern grid, costing the state exchequer Rs 750 crores monthly. Despite spending an exorbitant amount, there is still a power deficit of 500 MW or more.

Procurement of 2400 MWs from NTPC, SPCI approved

Amid the prevailing power crisis in the Valley, the government on November 24, 2023, said that the Lieutenant Governor has given approval for the procurement of 2400 MWs of electricity from NTPC and Solar Power Corporation of India.

“The power demand in Jammu and Kashmir has increased and at present it is 3200 MWs while the in-house generation availability is only 1350 MWs. This issue has been witnessed every year in the winters as the demand usually goes up during this period,” Principal Secretary, Power Development Department (PDD), H Rajesh Prasad said while addressing a news conference in Jammu.

He added that the power generation in our own houses usually decreases during winters. “At present it is 85 per cent lower compared to the summer season. In summers, we had a power generation of 1050 MWs in June-July, but now it is only 150 MWs. It is because of the low water level in the river and other water bodies,” Prasad said.

Principal Secretary said that the government has now procured an electricity of 2400 MWs, saying that the J&K has agreement for more, but it depends upon the power generation as well.

According to him, a long-term decision has been taken by the government to meet the power demand in Jammu and Kashmir during winters, saying that it will take some time to make sure that the electricity is available here.

“To end this paucity for the future as well, we have taken a permanent decision in this regard, 950 MWs have been purchased through PPA with NTPC, 1650 MWs from Solar Power Corporation of India (SPCI) and through the Government of India’s Shakti Policy, 500 MWs on reasonable rates as base load power has been procured,” he said, adding that the LG Manoj Sinha has given approval in this regard.

More demand, decreased generation

The energy requirement during the peak winters goes up to 1700 MW in Kashmir Valley, increasing this deficit to 1000 MW.

According to the state Power Development Department (PDD), energy demand in J&K has gradually increased at a 5-6% annual rate over the last five years. As per experts, given the scope of development in the UT, the demand for electricity will exceed 4000 MW in the next four years.

In 2022, the Jammu and Kashmir state run power projects produced 1211.96 MW of energy, which is about 50 MW more than the present generation. The power generation is witnessing a constant drop.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration said that the power generation had decreased due to a dry spell in the summer and said that the government is taking steps to address the issue.

A report last month in the Indian Express, quoted H Rajesh Prasad, principal secretary of the J&K’s Power Development Department, as saying “Due to the dry spell, water flow in the rivers is very low and this is leading to a reduced generation capacity. From our power projects, mainly Baglihar, our total generation was about 1,050 MW but at the end of September this was around 700 MW and as of today, this is down to about 200 MW to 250 MW.

A recent report in The Hindu stated that power generation has hit a record low of 50-100 Mega Watts (MWs). It stated that the Jhelum’s discharge (total annual discharge of 42.87 lakh cusecs) was down significantly from the expected 73,000 cusecs in October this year compared to river water discharge of the corresponding period last year.

This is likely to further worsen the power supply scenario in Jammu and Kashmir.

Transmission & Distribution Losses

There is also a gap between the power generation and the supply owing to high Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses. J&K accounts for the highest T&D losses. While the national average of T&D losses is approximately 20 percent in 2020-2021, as per the Economic Survey Report, in J&K T&D losses go up to 50 percent. T&D losses in J&K are considered highest in the country.

Speaking at a function in Jammu in March 2022, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha attributed the disproportionate level of T&D losses to power thefts and non-payment of electricity bills by consumers. While power thefts are a contributing factor, experts in the past have reasoned that among many factors, the state’s difficult terrain, weather and geography also account for a large percentage of the transmission losses.

In 2011, the Abraham Committee which directed the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Department to reduce the T&D losses in the state, reasoned that the losses were due to lack of upgradation of old lines and equipment, poor repair and maintenance of equipment, non-installation of sufficient capacitors, theft and pilferage, tampering of meters, and low accountability of employees.

The central government had allocated Rs 5000 crore for improvement and upgradation of power supply infra-structure to reduce T&D losses. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the upgradation has not been carried out during the past many years.

KT Chart of Transmission and Distribution losses in India. Graphic: PowerGrid IndiaMetering system

Officials reason that the transmission losses are high because of power thefts and lack of metering system. Only 50 percent of J&K has metering system. About 40 percent of the metered households now have smart meters. The officials claim that power supply would improve once all the meters are installed.

However, there has been resistance within Jammu and Kashmir to meters, particularly smart meters, which consumers and political leaders opine are resulting in inflated billing. Protests erupted both in Jammu and Srinagar against the installation of smart meters. Political leaders, businessmen and other commoners have expressed their resentment owing to fears that smart meters are over-charging. In March 2023, when people in Haba Kadal locality of Srinagar protested over smart meters, instead of assuaging their fears, the Power Development Department snapped the electricity in the region. The authorities claimed it was done to prevent ‘law and order’ disturbance. Such incidents have done little to minimize the public resentment.

Gap between energy harnessed and J&K’s potential

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has tremendous hydro power potential but it has not been fully exploited. A major hurdle is the Indus Water Treaty (IWT)with Pakistan.

According to this treaty which bars India to interfere with the river water flows of the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, the projects constructed on these rivers are designed on the basis of river run off. The hydro power projects are designed on the basis of run of the river cannot generate constant power throughout a year, as the rivers flow varies from summer to winter.

Despite the IWT hurdle, the hydro power potential of Jammu and Kashmir State is assessed to be about 20,000 MW out of which locations for the generation of 16,480 MW have already been identified. This includes power generation of up to 1500 MW from small and micro hydel projects.

Small hydro projects

Small, micro, or mini hydro projects are more environmentally friendly than large and medium hydro projects because they require less reservoir and civil construction work. The state has a huge potential for Small Hydro Projects (SHP) up to 25 MW, a potential of more than 1500 MW, but the achievement in harnessing it has been particularly dismal.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its J&K report for 2022, tabled in Parliament in March 2023, said that out of 374 identified project sites with power generation capacity of 1,725.53 Mega Watts, only 10 projects with 79.75 MW capacity had been commissioned with time overrun ranging between four months and seven years.

The reports points out that the hydro power potential of Jammu and Kashmir has been estimated at 20,000 MW which includes 1,500 MW in respect of small hydro projects. As of October 2021, only 2,813.46 MW (16 percent) of this potential had been harnessed, which included 79.75 MW of small hydro projects.

The report on compliance audit for the year ended March 31, 2021 said while no action was taken for 225 sites (60 percent) after their identification, bids were invited for 115 sites (31 percent) only.

“No response was received for 70 sites and out of 45 sites awarded for development of hydro power projects, 32 IPPs (Independent Power Producers) either failed to fulfil commitments like obtaining statutory clearances for execution of projects or did not deposit upfront premium or the allotment of projects was terminated due to land issues, slow progress and techno economic viability reasons,” the CAG pointed out.

“The CAG report said that for 20 sites proposed under Prime Minister’s Development Package, the Centre had not acceded to the request of the government of J&K for release of funds in view of high project cost and unviable tariff of these 20 projects.”

No funds released for small projects in five years

The CAG report said that for 20 sites proposed under Prime Minister’s Development Package, the Centre had not acceded to the request of the government of J&K for release of funds in view of high project cost and unviable tariff of these 20 projects.

“Nodal agencies did not coordinate with line departments/agencies for facilitating IPPs in obtaining clearances, approvals and finances for their projects in a time bound manner. Execution of projects was also not monitored,” the report said.

It said the IPPs had also attributed poor performance in development of projects inter alia to lack of financing by banks due to non-availability of buy back agreement with the J&K government.

“Failure of JKPDC (Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation) in ensuring completion of transmission line alongside the commission of hydro project at Dah resulted in non-utilisation of power generation of 59.37 MUs and consequent loss of revenue of Rs 16.45 crore,” the CAG said.

It said three projects with generation capacity of 12 MWs were selling power outside the UT thereby defeating the objective of hydro policy for providing solution to the energy problems in remote and hilly areas of the Union Territory, where the power demand was estimated at 4,217 MW (21,887 MUs) ending 2021-22.

Claims of doubling power generation

The J&K government has set a goal of doubling power generation in the next three years by investing Rs 34,000 crore in power project development, with the goal of turning Jammu and Kashmir into a hydropower generation surplus. J&K plans to increase its current hydropower generation capacity of 3500 MW over the next three years.

Five mega hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 4134 MW have been accepted for execution in collaboration with NHPC: Ratle (824 MW), Kirthai-II (930 MW), Sawalakote (1856 MW), Dul-Hasti-Stage II (258 MW), and Uri-I Stage-II (240 MW). These projects are expected to cost Rs 34882 crore when completed, and J&K will have a surplus of power.

In January 2021, while signing the MoUs, The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday said it has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and that it will attract Rs 35,000 crore investments besides ensuring 24-hour power supply in the UT.

“But in the next four years, we will generate 3,498 MW additional electricity to ensure energy security of the region,” he said.

Many a slip between the tongue and the lip

The claims of 3498 MW additional energy however do not take into account that a larger share of this would go to the northern grid as per the agreements signed. At 13 percent, J&K would get a share of about 300 MW only.

The article’s content, excluding the headline, has been directly taken from a third-party syndicated feed without any modifications or editing by the Kashmir Post staff.

Related posts