PDD employees continue to be government employees and there is no threat to anyone's job: PDD Chief Engineer
As people in Kashmir valley face power cuts during the harsh winter that has set early this year, Rising Kashmir’s Chief Reporter JunaidKathju asks the Power Development Department’s (PDD) Chief Engineer Aijaz Ahmad Darabout the measures that have been taken to meet the power demand in the Kashmir valley.
What is the power scenario in Kashmir Valley?
Power scenario is very tough. Weather is very harsh. We have had early winterthis time around. It has already snowed twice so far. We still have the last year availability that is around 1250 to 1300 MGWs of electricity against the demand of 1900 MGWs. There has been no addition till now. But we are optimistic that Alesteng Transmission line would provide us a breather as the project is likely to be completed at the end of January next year if the weather permits.
But Alesteng Transmission Linehave missed many deadlines. It seems like a never ending project and the recent snowfall has further delayed the project.
We had to face a lot of technical issues to complete this project and the November snowfall damaged some of the towers. We were expecting to complete the project by the end of December 2019.Once the project is complete it would add extra 200 to 250 MGWs ofpower supply.
People are complaining of unscheduled power cuts. Even Divisional Commissioner has warned PDD to adhere to power schedule.
We are trying our best to adhere to curtailment schedule. But at times there are technical outages like damage to transformer or on many occasions feeder or conductor gets snapped. Similarly, on certain occasions we have to shut power supply for maintenance purposes.So, we don't resort to unscheduled power cuts deliberately. It is a technical compulsion.
Every year in winter, people have to go through power cuts. What is the actual reason behind power cuts?
The unprecedented usage of electricity is the main reason for power cuts during the winterseason. On an average, during winters, each house consumes 6 to 7 KVs against the sanctioned 1 to 3 KVs. In total, we have 9.85 lakh registered consumers out of which 50 percent are domestic consumers which require 700 MGWs as per the agreement but our consumption as of now is upto 1900 MGWs. This is the main reason for power shortage in winters. It is my humble appeal to people to use electricity systematically especially during morning and evening hours.
What do you mean by systematic usage?
People should not use all the heating gadgets at the same time. For example, if you are switching on water heating gadget, keep the cooking heating gadget off and vice-versa. What people do is that they run all the heating gadgets simultaneously that results either damage to transformers or the power cuts.
There is also shortage of 800 transformers and around 5500 poles across the valley. Have any steps been taken to meet the requirement?
We have raised the matter of buffer stock of transformers and poles with our MD and Divisional Kashmir has also been intimated about the same. So, once we (PDD) would get the allotment, same shall be issued to all territorial divisions of the Valley. But having said that, supply of transformers and poles are unending demand because as the population grows, new colonies are emerging so is the requirement of key electric materials.
There are also complains of illegal hooking in many areas in the Valley. What is PDD doing about it?
We are aware that at many places people are resorting to hooking and double phasing especially in later evening hours. What was happening that lately due to circumstances, the enforcement wing was not on the ground. But now as the situation has improved the enforcement squad has been activated at all levels.
Do Kashmir lacks behind in overall power infrastructure?
No, we don't lack behind. We have many centre sponsored schemes like RAPDRP, IPDC, DDUGY, PMDP rural/urban which are under implementation process. Under these schemes a huge network is getting completed at transmission and distribution levels.
When would all these schemes be completed?
Majority of these schemes would be completed by 2020. And we have around Rs 2500 crore funds available to utilize on these projects in the Valley.
Unbundling of PDD was another issue that caught eyes of media lately. Many PDD employees also went on strike.
There is no privatization of PDD as has been portrayed. It is a corporation that would be working under the government. The PDD employees continue to be government employees like before. So, there is no threat to anyone's job.
What about the installation of pre-paid meters?
The process has begun. The contract has been awarded to REC PDCL and the work is likely to start on ground in couple of months. We are identifying the areas in the city to start the installation.
But will installation of pre-paid meters ensure 24/7 power supply? And will electricity be cheaper?
We would try our best to supply uninterrupted power supply once the pre-paid meters are installed. And the electricity will be of same rate what customers are paying under the current tariff.
In many metered areas of uptown, people are complaining that the PDD has increased the power tariff.
No, it is not like that. After a gap of few months, PDD does inspection in which we read the maximum demand of power supply to a household from their installed meters and accordingly we change the power tariff. For example, if a customer has signed 1 KV agreement with PDD but every month the meter reading shows usage of 4 KV then we have to revise the agreement.