Kashmir Valley has been reeling under darkness with the onset of winter. The government has issued a power curtailment schedule with an eight-hour power cut in non-metered areas and a 4.5-hour power cut in metered areas every day.
The power cuts in the sub-zero temperatures make the winter cold much harsher and difficult to endure.
The frequent power outages are not going down well with the local population and have received a lot of criticism.
“Kashmir has been facing harsh winter conditions already and with this new power cut schedule, it becomes unbearable for us to live without electricity. The government should rethink the schedule as people can’t bear the cold. Kashmir produces so much electricity and despite that, we have to face such hardships,” said Bashir Ahmad, a local resident.
Jammu and Kashmir produces more than 3500 megawatts of electricity via 24 hydropower projects spread across various districts of the union territory. The Kashmir region produces around 2500 megawatts of electricity, which is sufficient for the valley to be provided with 24/7 electricity throughout the year.
Political leaders have also lashed out at the government for the disruption of the power supply. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti lashed out at the administration and demanded an uninterrupted power supply.
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”Our state produces maximum electricity via these NHPC projects, and the whole country’s electricity and factories are running due to that electricity. And due to this, political parties like BJP promise people in other states free electricity and the state which produces this electricity is being told to not use the electricity,” said Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
This is a stepmotherly treatment by BJP towards Jammu and Kashmir. We should be provided free electricity instead and compensated for our power projects.”
Government data suggests that out of the 24 hydropower projects, 13 are being run by the UT through the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation (JKPDC) which produces 1197 megawatts of electricity.
State-owned NHPC operates six hydropower projects, mostly in Kashmir, which generate 2250 megawatts of electricity. The remaining five power projects are being run by other public-private partnership companies which generate 57.5 megawatts of electricity.
The NHPC-owned power projects relate to the northern grid of India and the UT of Jammu and Kashmir has to purchase electricity from them to meet the demand for electric supply here.
However, the political parties have also started playing free electricity politics over the issue. Apni Party President, Altaf Bukhari has demanded the return of NHPC-owned power projects and promised free electricity up to 500 units for every household in Jammu and Kashmir if they come to power in the UT.
The UT administration has recently hiked the power tariff by 18 per cent which has further angered the local population in the region.