The Powerless State

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The Legitimate Desk                         Powerless Powerless 

After State Administrative Council last month ordered the privatization of metering and billing of customers, the Power Development Department employees were up in arms accusing governor of reducing the administrative powers of department.

But SAC has refused to revoke its order and the process has begun after the contracts were awarded to some private companies.  Come winters the PDD departments manage to stay in news more than routine affairs like politics and conflict in Kashmir.

Drastic curtailment is witnessed in power after department fails to cater the prevailing electricity demands of the people. Long power cuts becomes the order of day but despite spending crores of rupees on reforms in power sector to minimize the transmission and distribution losses, the department has failed in every aspect.

While in some cases the political interferences are the reasons for departments failure in reforming the sector, however, rampant corruption is also considered one of the major reasons to its failure.

 Why the power pilferage has become unstoppable in Jammu and Kashmir one needs to ponder. If the reports in local media are considered only 42 per cent metering has been done so far by PDD even after the process was started ten years ago.

According to PDD official, out of 9.65 lakh registered consumers in Kashmir, only 3.99 lakh are metered.

The infrastructure reforms and replacing the outdated transformers, wiring and poles is also done at snail’s pace across the state due to which the T&D losses are not showing any significant improvement.

The concerned officials even admit their failure though they often assure to work for its improvements.

Huge chunk of money was spent over the installation of post-paid metres in state, however, if the department sources are believed the process has failed to stop the pilferage. So one would ask the question how the pre paid metres would help in stopping the power theft.

The company which was awarded the contract will procure and install 9.25 lakh prepaid electronic meters in the rural and urban areas of the state, sanctioned under various schemes at an estimated cost of Rs. 282.15 crore.

While the PDD is one among the few profit making departments in state and has huge potential to generate revenue, such an amateur and ill conceived decision could only further vitiate its financial situation. The department is even forced to spend over 5000 crores annually to buy electricity to defuse the mounting crisis

With every passing year, the demand and the supply of electricity is marking an increasing gap and is plunging not Kashmir only into darkness, however, it is steadily crippling our economy.

All those endeavours sponsored by the state government to ensure the boost in economic investments by the locals and non locals would suffer setback until the power reforms are taken seriously.

While such initiatives by the popular governments are difficult, however, governor can seize an opportunity and bell the cat. The privatization of commercial wing of the PDD would be one of the major steps in this regard.

 The centrally sponsored schemes in the department need also a third party audit and ensure the levels of corruption are brought down so that the outdated infrastructure is replaced to ensure the efficiency in services besides minimize T&D losses.

Powerless Powerless Powerless

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