Persistent dry weather, declining water levels force KPDCL to unscheduled power cuts
SRINAGAR: Kashmir is currently grappling with an unprecedented power crisis, with power cuts from 5 to 9 hours a day, leaving residents and industries to suffer hugely.
Hot, humid and dry weather conditions during the months of August and September in the Valley has reduced the water level in the famous water bodies including river Jhelum ,Chenab and Doodh Ganga and others following which the people are facing power crisis much before winters.
Officials said that the root cause of this crisis lies in the dwindling power generation within J&K, which currently stands at a mere 500 MW, far below the increasing demand.
Despite the ample hydropower potential in Jammu and Kashmir, power generation has declined to 500 MW, while the government’s reduced procurement of 1400-1500 MW from external power has resulted in a power crisis in the Union Territory.
Additionally, the government’s decision to reduce power purchases from external generating companies has further worsened the situation.
According to sources, the power deficit in Kashmir alone hovers between 300 to 400 MW, and with the mercury dipping rapidly, the power demand in Kashmir has surged, reaching up to 1500 MW at peak times.
Ironically, the available power supply falls significantly short, hovering around 1000 MW, creating a considerable gap between supply and demand.
“In response to this crisis, Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) is implementing a strategy to prioritise power supply. The first and foremost priority is to ensure uninterrupted electricity to essential facilities such as hospitals, critical installations, metered areas, and industrial estates. Unfortunately, this leaves no alternative but to resort to scheduled load shedding to bridge the demand-supply gap,” the sources said.
According to KPDCL officials, metered areas were facing unscheduled power cuts of 5 to 6 hours per day, while non-metered areas were experiencing even longer cuts, up to 9 hours. Industrial estates are also grappling with erratic power supply, severely affecting industrial production in the region.
Chief Engineer, KPDCL, expressed optimism that the power supply situation would improve in the coming days as additional electricity purchases from external sources were set to be made.
Officials said that the Baglihar power project was expected to contribute an additional 150 MW of power during the evening hours.”The government has also made arrangements to purchase additional power from Uttar Pradesh (UP) to alleviate the crisis,” they said.
J&K-owned power plants currently contribute 18 percent of J&K’s total energy requirements, with Central Generating Stations (CGS) making up the majority at 70 percent, and the remaining 12 percent sourced from the power exchange and private sector.
As per the official data, J&K-owned power plants play a significant role in the UT’s power generation, with the Baglihar Hydro Electric Project (BHEP) alone generating approximately 900 MW.
Other locally-owned power generation plants like Upper Sindh, Lower Jhelum, and Chenani collectively produce around 200-250 MW.
This cumulative generation typically amounts to 1100-1140 MW, however, it drops to approximately 200 MW during winter due to reduced water discharge in rivers when demand surges to over 3000 MW.
According to the Power Development Department (PDD), of the total installed capacity of 1140 MW in the UT sector, the majority, around 1030 MW (88 percent of the total capacity), is utilised within J&K, while the remaining 150 MW is sold to other entities outside J&K as per agreements executed in 2009.
As the power crisis continues to grip J&K, residents and industries alike are eagerly awaiting relief measures and an increase in power supply to mitigate the hardships faced due to prolonged power cuts.