Power Crisis Deepen; People Take To Roads18 November 2015
Srinagar: The power crisis in Kashmir Valley has deepened with winter still a month away prompting residents in scores of areas across Kashmir to take to streets to vent out their frustration with the system. According to reports, the people of Maisuma, Gaw Kadal, Basant Bagh and adjoining areas in the uptown staged protests in the city and blocked vehicular movement at Budshah Chowk. The protesters, mostly women, said that the Power Development Department was resorting to 'unwarranted curtailment' of power which was causing lot of inconvenience to them. They said that they are already facing severe hardships as they were among worst affected during the floods last year. The protesters appealed PDD to stop unscheduled power curtailment or else they would intensify protests. A delegation of Boulevard Traders Association accused PDD of spoiling their business by resorting to frequent power cuts despite area being a tourist zone. 'We have to shut our shops at 5 in the evening as we cannot afford running business on generators since tourist inflow has already come to a naught' they said. 'With the dusk fall the entire Boulevard stretch, once a pride of Srinagar with growing nightlife, presents look of a ghost town and few tourists present shut themselves behind close doors.' Repeated pleas to PDD authorities have turned into deaf ears. Residents of M.I.G Colony Bemina staged protest saying that instead of ensuring regular power supply during the peak hours, the PDD was resorting to forced cuts. 'Every day and night we find ourselves in complete darkness. The electricity is playing hide and seek for the past few days,' said a resident Habibulah Bhat. Residents of Khanqah-e-Maula staged a protest demanding end to frequent power cuts. 'If PDD sticks to its curtailment schedule, we have no issue as we have adjusted to that schedule but frequent unscheduled cuts are frustrating', said Adil Rehman a computer engineer. Similar reports have come in from Narwara, Khywon and Eidgah areas of the city. In South Kashmir district of Pulwama, protests broke out at Koil village against unscheduled power curtailment. The protesters blocked roads and demanded better power supply. Meanwhile, a village in north Kashmir's Kupwara district is reeling under darkness since the Assembly polls that were held last year. The inhabitants of Chopan Mohalla in Sohipora of the district said that since polls they are reeling under darkness due to non installation of a transformer. The locals are staging protests from past three days. 'Ever since the new regime has taken over we are reeling under darkness as there is no transformer. We are being subjected to political vendetta,' the villagers alleged. Reports from other parts of the Valley suggest that people are enraged over unscheduled power cuts in day as well as night hours. The situation is no different in metered areas. The students, who are this time busy in examinations, are worst affected as they are unable to concentrate properly on studies in wake of power cuts. Expressing serious concern over the precarious power situation in Kashmir, CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said it seems the administration has virtually decided to keep the people of Kashmir into perpetual darkness. In a statement issued here, Mr Tarigami, who is the MLA from Kulgam, remarked that 'the people in cities and towns are provided with low voltage and erratic power supplies while the people living in rural and far flung areas are without electricity that too at a time when the power supplies are needed more to cope-up with the chilly winters'. Stating that there was nothing tangible in the much hyped economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for augmenting power infrastructure in Kashmir valley, Mr Tarigami said while some amount from the package to be used for solar energy plant to generate electricity in Leh and Ladakh was welcome, but it was disheartening that no component has been earmarked for streamlining power supply in Kashmir. Referring to the erratic power supply position in the Valley, the CPI (M) leader said it was unfortunate that the same situation was being repeated during every winter soon after the offices move to Jammu and the people of the Valley are left helpless being devoid of basic amenities, especially the power and essential commodities. As the whole valley is face to face with a grim electricity scenario, south Kashmir, particularly district Kulgam seems to be at the receiving end of this power crisis. There is almost no electricity in Kulgam town and its rural areas. Some rural areas of this district receiving erratic power supply are for the most of the time facing numerous problems on account of low voltage and the people are compelled to arrange alternative sources of illumination during the hours, they receive electricity, Mr Tarigami remarked. He said no power schedule was being followed on ground and even metered areas were facing long and unscheduled power cuts much to the annoyance of public. The transmission and distribution system has also deteriorated thereby depriving the consumers of vital electricity facility. The dilapidated LT network especially in rural areas is posing a grave threat to the life and property of the common man, he stressed, Tarigami said, while urging the government to arrange alternate sources of energy to provide regular power supply to the people across the state.