CM’s promise fails to light Kashmiris’ hope for power
By Sheikh Junaid - SRI NAGAR
Published: 05th Aug 2012 09:12:03 AM
As the world witnessed the biggest blackout in the past week due to failure of northern grid in India, it was life as usual for a small village located in Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s constituency. The village, Rabithar, in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district is without electricity for the last eighteen months.
The villagers have run from pillar to post but to no avail as the state’s electricity department has refused to repair the electricity transformer that developed a snag over eighteen months ago.
The refusal has come as the 25 KV transformer was installed in the village by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation under the Central sponsored Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutiran Yojna scheme.
Altaf Ahmad, who is the sarpanch of the village said: “I went along with a few villagers to meet a top official of the electricity department when the transformer developed fault, but nothing has been done so far.”
The state’s electricity department, according to villagers, assured them that the matter would be taken with NHPC. A senior officer in the electricity department says that the village transformer is not a single case.
We were assured that the electricity department has send a plan for repair of these transformers to the state government and they were waiting for reply, says Altaf.
The executive engineer of the department in Ganderbal, Masood Ahamad, says the repair has not been carried due to non-availability of funds. “We have send an action plan to replace 25 KV with 65 KV,” he adds.
The engineer claims that the much touted scheme in Jammu and Kashmir by the NHPC is in reality ‘a total failure’. “In Kashmir households the electricity usage is quite high as people use heaters for a major part of the year and in a scenario like that a 25 KV transformer doesn’t stand a chance to survive,” he says.
A top official of the NHPC while admitting that the scheme has face some grave issues says they are working with the state government for a solution.
The state government has drawn flak, because since the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan it has failed to provide regular electricity.
A panicked chief minister recently announced a booster shot of `200 crore and even the electricity department changed the schedule and timing of electricity in Kashmir. But, analysts say the corrective steps are not enough and much more needs to be done.
Notwithstanding the month of Ramzan, the government resorted to unscheduled extended power cuts causing huge inconvenience to the Kashmir people forcing them to come out on roads.
Protests broke out at various places across Kashmir. Omar had announced that the government would ensure electricity during Iftar and Sehri during Ramzan.
However, contrary to Omar’s promise, the electricity department’s revised schedule said that people would be subjected to one Iftar and one Sehri cut during a week.
The administration used brute force against protesters. Pictures of a woman protester being thrashed by a policeman went viral on the Internet. The action was condemned by both the mainstream and resistance leadership of the state. The tech-savvy chief minister, who constantly tweets, in a face saving response announced the booster shot and asked the electricity department to revisit the schedule. But analysts say that the electricity deficit coupled with the flawed measures in the state only mean more trouble for the consumers ahead.