The valley’s power distribution corporation has announced a 31-hour to 56-hour per week power curtailment schedule from Tuesday, days after people received their revised monthly bills, with a hike of 8 to 22 % from October onwards. Officials of the corporation, however, said that the curtailment is the same as last year, which is necessitated as people are consuming electricity way beyond their registered loads.
Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) on Monday announced that the non-metered areas of summer capital Srinagar will face power cuts of eight hours every day while it will be 4.5 hours daily in the metered areas. The new schedule puts the curtailment hours in black and white dividing the outages into ‘morning curtailment’, ‘day curtailment’ and ‘evening curtailment’.
While non-metered areas will face power cuts of 1 to 3 hours four times a day, metered areas will see power outages of 1.5 hours four times a day. The curtailment schedule comes even as the valley is facing unscheduled power cuts multiple times during the day. The demand right now in Kashmir is over 1900 MW and it will peak beyond 2000 MW in January while the supply is 1600-1700 MW.
The official said the current local production in the UT is just 150 MW due to the reduction in water levels and the rest of the power is bought from the central pool. The power cuts schedule comes amid claims by the administration for the past year that the electricity distribution and supply will improve.
“Eight hours power curtailment for non-metered areas, 4.5 hours for metered areas from Nov 15, 2022. In Naya Kashmir, we were promised 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply. The charges per unit have increased, and all that the present dispensation has to offer us are slogans and sound bites,” said Abid Wani, a political activist.
In March this year, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had said that areas with smart meters, which are being installed in many areas, will be made free of any power cuts. Almost two years back, in January 2021, LG had said that J&K would turn from a power deficit to a power-surplus region within four years with 24 hours power supply.
“How will the PDD (power development department) justify this? On the one hand, they revised the fee and on the other, the power supply has decreased. The department has spent a good amount in the name of improvement of infrastructure and better supply of power,” said M Ramzan, a retired employee, on Facebook.
Earlier this month, power consumers received inflated power bills after the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) of Jammu and Kashmir approved an 8 to 22 % hike in domestic, industrial, commercial and agriculture power tariffs across the union territory. “I received a bill of ₹920 for the month of October on a flat rate basis. Earlier, I used to pay ₹748 per month. This is an increase of 22.9% in my monthly power bill. How can I afford such an increase?” said Nazir Ahmad, a vegetable farmer in Srinagar. “There is no concern for the common people for this government and its officers. If they have hiked the bill, why is there curtailment? All they care for is their comforts, nothing for the common man,” he added.
KPDCL chief engineer Javed Yousuf Dar said that the curtailment schedule is the same as it was last year. “Improvement is happening. Some four years ago, we would provide 1200 MW during peak hours while currently, it goes up to 1650-1700 MW in peak hours,” he said, adding, “We will stick to the schedule and avoid any unscheduled power cuts”. He said that the hike in tariffs was due. “Generally, the hike is 8 to 12%,” he said.
He said that people were using electricity way beyond their registered loads. “The people need to stick to their agreed loads because using power beyond their capacity overloads the transformers and feeders,” he said.