Kashmir is reeling under one of the worst summer power crises in decades reportedly owing to lower-then-capacity generation by the local hydel plants and “no availability” of electricity to buy from the market. Against a demand of 1,700 MW, the Valley is receiving only about 900 MW (from all sources), leaving people so perturbed with the frequent and prolonged unscheduled power cuts that they are out on the street protesting.
Over the past fortnight, most parts of the Valley have received electricity supply only for about four hours daily that too in intervals ranging between 15 minutes and half an hour. Sources say that the depleted generation capacity of coal-based power plants across the country worsened the situation in the Valley. Union Coal Secretary A K Jain attributed the low coal stocks at power plants to several factors such as heightened power demand due to the boom in the economy post Covid-19, early arrival of summer, rise in the price of gas and imported coal and sharp fall in electricity generation by coastal thermal power plants.
“I don’t remember having seen such power shortage in my lifetime especially in summers,” says 55-year-old Irshad Rasool Bhat, a resident of Soura Srinagar. “On the one hand, government is talking about development… and on the other, we don’t get electricity for more than four hours…The situation has turned worse during Ramzan…”. The shortage has also hit the industries and the business establishments. Riyaz Ahmad, who runs a digital printing solutions unit said, “There is no electricity. We can’t use even the generators as kerosene is missing from the market and the petrol prices have skyrocketed…”
“I agree, this is the worst power crisis in 50 years,” said a senior Power Department officer, who didn’t want to be named.
Another official said that J&K is receiving less than 50 per cent of the demand and that the situation may improve only in the second week of May.
J&K’s Principal Secretary, Power Development Department, Niteshwar Kumar, didn’t respond to phone calls.