Behind the protests and the firing that led to the death of a 20-year-old student in Boniyar,on Monday is the new power schedule drawn by the J&K Power Development Department under which most areas in the Valley will get just six-eight hours of supply in a day. With this being the harshest period of winter in Kashmir,the schedule has come under sharp criticism from not just the mainstream political parties but also civil society groups and,in a first,the separatists.
Protests have been reported from across the Valley since the new schedule was announced,including from Chief Minister Omar Abdullahs Ganderbal constituency.
Following the death of Altaf Ahmad Sood in Boniyar protests,the government has said gas turbines would be used to improve power supply. In fact,on Tuesday,Chief Minister Omar Abdullah pressed into service the four units of 25 MW each at the Gas Turbine Power Station at Pampore to help ease the power deficit situation in the Valley. An official spokesman said by operating the gas turbine the present power availability in the Valley has increased from 950 MWs to 1050 MWs daily.
The Chief Minister has tried to blame the people,accusing them of power theft and of not paying electricity bills. Despite the increase in generation,we are unable to meet the demand. Till people do not stop indulging in power theft,government would not be able to help them. The state is losing Rs 2,000 crore to power theft. If there was no power theft,the government would have generated power worth Rs 1,500 crore, he said last week. However,what people are really angry about are the harsh power cuts being seen even in areas where electricity metres have been installed and which were promised 24X7 supply by the government.
The Power Development Department is committed to providing round-the-clock uninterrupted power supply to metered areas in consonance with orders passed by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission. This curtailment is against the commitment made by the government, said Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Shakeel Qalander.