Civil Society Petitions SERC Over Unscheduled Cuts; PDD To Penalize Non-Metered Areas
With the Kashmir valley witnessing unprecedented power crisis around this time of the year, the civil society members here have knocked the doors of State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) to seek relief from the “extended unscheduled” power cuts that have pushed seven million souls of the region into perpetual darkness. While resentment is brewing against erratic power supply across- the-board, the Power Development Department (PDD), according to reliable sources, is mulling to “punish” consumers in non-metered areas to give a semblance of normalcy vis-à-vis power supply in metered areas.
Joining the chorus for restoration of normal power supply in the Valley, Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) has filed a petition in SERC – the statutory body setup to regulate power sector in the Valley – pleading that the unscheduled long cuts in both metered as well as non-metered areas are “illegal” and “unjustified”.
“The unprecedented and unscheduled power cuts have been affected by PDD over the past more than two months in both un-metered and metered areas of the valley. There have been scores of protests by people across the valley over these curtailments and the reports of the power crises repeatedly surfaced in the local media. However, instead of taking any curative measures, PDD is increasing the power cuts with each passing day,” the petition reads.
Currently, the frequent unscheduled cuts are in addition to already announced power curtailment schedule in October last year.
According to the petition, “the unscheduled long power cuts in the unmetered areas are unjustifiable as these not only violate the basic principles of J&K Electricity Act but also the orders of J&K SERC issued from time to time”.
Stating that the fresh curtailments are discriminatory, the petition reads: “That any schedule of curtailment issued is required to be non-discriminatory for the entire state that seems not having been followed in the fresh arbitrary curtailment procedure adopted by the utility”.
Accusing PDD of violating directions passed by SERC vis-a-vis power supply, the civil society group asserts that “the utility is bound to provide 100% uninterrupted power supply in the metered areas in consonance with the orders passed by JKSERC in their tariff and other orders from time to time”.
While seeking intervention of the regulatory body, the civil society group has prayed for passing directions to PDD on two points – providing 100% uninterrupted power supply in the metered areas and strictly and uniformly adhering to the non-discriminative and equitable power supply schedule in all unmetered areas across the state.
Meanwhile, sources told Greater Kashmir that PDD has decided to go for additional power cuts in non-metered areas, where bulk of Valley’s population resides, to improve supply and control public anger in metered areas.
According to sources, the same has been agreed in principle during the meeting of PDD officials in Srinagar to discuss the way-out for power crisis engulfing the region.
While the meeting chaired by Power Development Commissioner Manzoor Ahmad Salroo and attended by senior officials of the department failed to workout any concrete solution to the crisis pushing around 7 lakh houses into darkness but it was agreed to go for further curtailment in non–metered areas for what they said providing relief to consumers in metered areas.
“It was yet to be decided whether further curtailment schedule would be made public or kept under wraps as is usually being done here,” they disclosed.
A top official of the department while admitting grim scenario of power supply blamed the state government for the mess saying their hands are “tied-up” due to limited budgetary allocation for power purchases.
“There are strict instructions from higher–ups not to make purchases beyond allocated amount of Rs 3600 crore,” they said adding the situation would worsen in the days ahead if the government doesn’t release enough funds for purchase of power.
They added that different theories like snag in generators or shortage in drawl of energy from Northern Grid are “lame excuses” and are being just used to cover-up the real problem.
Pertinently, General Manager of Northern Region Load Despatch Centre (NRLDC), monitoring and supervising the Northern Grid, VV Sharma had told this newspaper few days ago that there is no problem on their part vis-à-vis power supply to JK.
“If they have more requirements, they can procure it but on our side everything is OK,” Sharma had said.
When contacted, DCP Manzoor Ahmad Salroo said breakdown in Naptha Jhakri power project was prompting them to resort to distress load-shedding.
Salroo said the situation of power supply would improve in next few days as they are on the job of fixing variation in the schedule in non-metered areas.
While denying the proposal of going for extra curtailments in non- metered areas, Salroo however, said some non-metered areas are getting power beyond the schedule.
“We will curb this excess to provide much-needed succor to consumers in metered areas,” he said.