Kashmir’s power crisis headed for worst if T&D losses not plugged: Experts

‘To save environment, Kashmir needs to develop small hydro projects’

SAQIB MALIK
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 17 2018 11:48PM | Updated Date: Feb 17 2018 11:48PM
Kashmir’s power crisis headed for worst if T&D losses not plugged: ExpertsGK Photo

To overcome the transmission and distribution losses, ensure judicious use of power and boost to infrastructure is the only way to help Kashmir overcome the prevailing electricity crisis. 

This was the consensus of experts in a debate organised by a policy group, Kashmir Institute here on Saturday. The panel of experts also highlighted the need for setting-up of smaller hydro-electricity projects so that there is more efficient power generation without causing harm to ecology.  

Iftikhar Drabu, an expert on power, said power sector in Kashmir is plagued with transmission problems with aggregate technical and commercial (ATC) losses registering almost 80 percent while the overall state faces 64 percent similar losses.

“At this rate of loss if we want to go only hydro, we need 23,000 MW of power in winter to survive. How can any society survive with 80 percent transmission loss?” Drabu asked.

He highlighted that thermal, nuclear and new energy have overtaken hydro-electricity in most of the countries. He said J&K demanding for return of power projects will set a precedent for other states to make similar demand.

“At one stage hydro was contributing 45 percent of India’s energy needs but today it has come down to 16 percent. Since 1980 thermal, nuclear and other sources have grown eight times. If you are looking at private sector, none of the big players are into hydro power.  If we can get our transmission losses down, we can be self-sufficient, generating from J&K only,” Drabu said. “We are getting power from Himachal Pradesh etc. If we want our projects back, others states would want their projects back too,” Drabu added.

Prominent industrialist, Shakeel Qalander said State Electricity Regulatory Commission has been headless for last one year and blamed PDD for issuing “illegal” bills to consumers.   

“Tariffs for all consumers have been approved by SERC upto October 2017 and thereafter no tariff has been approved by the regulator. The raising of bills and collecting of revenue from the consumer by the Power Development Department is illegal,” Qalander said.  

Superintendent Engineer, Power Development Department, Hashmat Qazi said it is not advisable to develop infrastructure for “unruly power demand” and urged consumers to use electricity in a disciplined way.

“The power demand in Kashmir is not more than 1900 MW in Kashmir but the question is whether it is an unruly or a disciplined demand. If we have a disciplined demand, it won’t be more than 1000 MW and we do have a capacity for that. But if we have an unruly demand by wasting electricity, then I don’t think it would make any sense to develop an infrastructure to cater to that,” Qazi said.

General Manager, Technical, Power Development Corporation, NA Kakroo said that from JKPDC projects during 2016-17, 10 percent more than the desired energy was generated. “From a generation point of view, there’s not much problem. We have some new projects, which have good capacity (some to be completed in about 4 years while some are lagging behind the schedule due to financial issues” Kakroo said.

Head of Department, Earth Sciences, Kashmir University, Shakil Romshoo said there is a need to promote small hydro-power projects.

“The solution is small hydro-power projects to save environment. We need to have modest projects that are financially also viable. We have Rs 11,000 crore given by the central government but we need to be vocal about asking for mega-package for small hydro-power projects. The economic independence of this state is dependent on electricity,” said Romshoo. 

Romshoo said with regard to power, water is the important natural resource in Kashmir. He said the water resource policy of the state when drafted was a replica of Gujarat policy talking about depletion of "coastlines in Kashmir".  "This policy was nothing else but replica of the Gujarat Policy," he added.

While senior journalist Riyaz Masroor hosted the debate, Fahad Shah, director of The Kashmir Institute made the opening remarks.

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