Centre Unhappy With Power Transmission Losses In J&K

10 May 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Sumit Hakhoo

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir has again been reprimanded by the Union Power Ministry for its failure to curb transmission and distribution (T&D) losses in the power sector, which is highest in the country, despite a decade-long reform process initiated in 2004. Sources said there was a huge pressure from the Central government to improve revenue recovery and check the pilferage, a major cause of T&D losses. In the area of revenue realization, too, the state has been performing poorly over the years. Though the Jammu region has been showing a marked improvement in containing the distribution loss but the Power Development Department (PDD) is facing an uphill task to curb pilferage in Kashmir due to frequent law and order problems. 'The state continues to have two contrasting stories when it comes to curbing pilferage as the T&D losses in the Kashmir valley is a staggering 64 per cent while in Jammu region it is about 41 per cent. The overall T&D loss for the state is about 54 per cent, which is much above the national average of 30 per cent,' said a senior PDD official. The government had fixed Rs 3,508.62 crore revenue target for the 2014-15 fiscal but only Rs 1,750 crore was realised. Less than 50 per cent of the target was achieved, exposing the poor working of the department. 'Our major challenge is recovery from defaulters even as a lot needs to be done to make the power sector vibrant. In Jammu, people have begun to cooperate with us due to the tough measures taken. Several defaulters have come forward to clear their dues,' said Chief Engineer (Jammu) Sehnaz Goni. Under the J&K State Electricity Regularity Act, there is a provision for legal action against those who misuse electricity and indulge in illegal acts. The state has, however, failed to create separate police stations or depute personnel for strengthening the enforcement wing. 'Agitations in Kashmir are a major reason why the PDD has failed to implement its projects in the Valley. In several areas of Srinagar, department employees don't take action against illegal connections due to the hostility they encounter,' said a senior PDD official posted in Kashmir on condition of anonymity. Officials said the PDD was under tremendous pressure from the Union Power Ministry, which recently expressed its concern over the tardy pace of reform process carried out by the successive state governments over the past decade. 'Power losses due to ineffectiveness of reforms have become a major headache for the PDP-BJP government in the state. Crores of rupees have been spent on improving the power sector but these measures have failed to curb the losses because everyone - government departments, ministers, bureaucrats and common masses are defaulters,' said a senior official from the Power Ministry.