Pay market price of power, Omar tells grumbling people

June 21st, 2012 - 4:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 21 (IANS) Facing fire over power woes in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday came down heavily on those who indulge in power theft and asked people to prepare themselves to pay according to the prevailing market price.

Frequent power cuts and load shedding have been traditional woes for the people in Kashmir. Omar joined the debate in a big way, posting as many as six comments on his micro-blogging Twitter site.

Omar, who also holds the power portfolio, challenged those accusing the government of electricity shortages. “Power in J&K; is the second cheapest in the country after Sikkim. How about all of you complaining about load shedding… start paying market price,” he said.

He also took potshots at those involved in power pilferage among the consumers and within the department. “The theft doesn’t happen without collusion in the department which is why the process of unbundling the T&D; (transmission and distribution) sector has been started,” he said.

Defending his government, the chief minister said: “So while it’s easy to blame government for everything, some amount of soul searching is also called for.”

About power cuts being enforced even in metered areas of the valley where uninterrupted electricity supply was maintained in the beginning, the chief minister said: “Metered areas, where earlier there was no loss, now have massive amounts of theft and bypassing of meters so metered areas face load shedding.”

Explaining the reasons for people’s resistance to installation of electric meters, he said: “Non metered areas resist installation of meters because they don’t want to pay for power that they use. Much happier under-disclosing load.”

“I’ve been very transparent about the power situation in the state. The 70 percent loss/theft situation is unsustainable, so load shedding happens,” he said.

A senior engineer in the state electricity department told IANS that the total hydro electric power production in the valley from Lower Jhelum Hydel Project, Upper Sindh Hydel Project stages 1 and 2 and other small generating power stations is 185 megawatts (MW) per day.

“We need around 800 to 815 MW of electricity daily in the valley and for this we purchase around 600 to 650 MW from the country’s northern power grid, which comes at a heavy price,” the engineer said.

Bitter war of words is already going on between the state and the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), which has power projects based in J&K.;

The state government says the NHPC is using the local water resources to generate power, which it sells to J&K; at an exorbitant price.

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