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Power supply maintained in Kashmir despite numerous challenges: PDD

Ramban land subsidence

SRINAGAR, MAY 04: A spokesperson for Jammu & Kashmir Power Development Department (JKPDD) provided an update on the damage to region’s power infrastructure and its consequent effect on the power supply, following the catastrophic incident of land subsidence in district Ramban on the evening of April 25th, 2024. The severity of the situation was significant, rendering the affected areas inaccessible.

Despite the challenges posed by the incident, emergency restoration works were promptly initiated by both PDD’s and PGCIL’s restoration teams. As per the initial reports, four vital links involving two Double Circuit (D/C) transmission lines, owned by PGCIL, connecting the Kashmir Valley to the Northern Grid through Peer Top route (Jawahar Tunnel) suffered outage – one of the transmission lines had sustained substantial damage while the other transmission line running parallelly in the same locality, was kept under shutdown as a precautionary measure. However, the department’s prior planning and timely action executed in the past, by laying of another 400 kV Samba (Jammu)-Amargarh (Kashmir) Transmission line, following an entirely different route via Mughal Road, proved helpful during this catastrophe. Consequently, the power flow to the valley was conveniently maintained through the 400 kV Samba (Jammu)-Amargarh (Kashmir) Transmission line, without any disruption in power supply. Besides, the power being generated from locally situated powerhouses of Kashmir (both NHPC & JKPDC) is also being utilized to meet the load demand of the Kashmir valley.

It’s worth noting that more than a decade ago, similar damage occurred to the Transmission line passing through Peer Top route, which had plunged the entire Kashmir valley into darkness for over 13 days, as the 400 kV Samba (Jammu)-Amargarh (Kashmir) Transmission line was not existing at that time. As per the latest reports, one Double circuit Transmission line, which had been kept off as a precautionary measure was charged on 30th April, 2024 while one of the circuits of the other D/C Transmission line is expected to be charged on Emergency Restoration Systems (ERS) by 15th May 2024. During the same period when the land subsidence occurred, heavy rainfall and wind storm outside the sinking zone of same district, caused damage to one of the towers of 132 kV Chenani-Srinagar (CSTL) line. The said line feeds Tathar Grid, which caters power supply to Banihal and adjoining areas. However, the disruption was momentary as power supply to the Tathar Grid was promptly restored from the alternate Mir Bazar Grid. Thus, the damage did not affect the power supply in the area. Likewise, the underlying distribution infrastructure also got damaged due to the land subsidence, primarily damaging the 33/11 kV Receiving Station Kanga besides uprooting of many poles, affecting around 10,000 consumers. However, various alternate/ temporary makeshift arrangements were swiftly made to ensure smooth power supply to about 2500 consumers the very next day while power supply to all the remaining households/ consumers was also restored in two-day period.

The department’s spokesperson further informed that as the high demand winter season has just concluded in Kashmir and the load/ demand in the valley has started to reduce gradually with the rising temperature, the department has prudently ensured providing around 1400-1450 MW (average) of power supply in the valley despite the fact that hydro power has not fully come up as the water level in J&K rivers is still low. As such, power is being sourced through the Central Generating stations, with major share coming from Thermal Power Plants. A comprehensive schedule of power supply has been devised and is diligently adhered to. However, the spokesperson expressed his deep concern over the incidents of rampant power theft, particularly mid-span hooking, being reported in several areas, which render the system vulnerable to damage and in turn, inevitable power disruptions. Accordingly, besides taking technical measures by replacing bare conductors with Aerial Bunched Cables to deter hooking, concerted efforts are being made to eliminate power pilferage.

The department has initiated massive enforcement drive against power theft, which will be substantially scaled up, and it will be ensured that stringent action under law is taken against those indulging in power theft. It was further informed that instances of power theft have also been reported in the smart metered areas. The department is taking a very strict view of such cases and Legal action under Section 135 of the Electricity Act is being pursued vigorously to combat such violations and uphold the integrity of the system. The department remains committed towards providing best of services to the legitimate consumers. Besides a 24×7 call centre is fully functional, which facilitates complete end-to-end disposal of complaints, which are monitored at the highest levels. In addition, a separate mechanism is also in place for monitoring the damages to distribution transformers, regardless of their location including the most remote or inaccessible areas as well. It was reiterated that in today’s modern era, where on-demand services have become a practice, the power sector is no exception. The payments to different generators towards procurement of power for its further distribution to the consumers is to be timely made, which is being monitored through an online portal in real-time. Any delays in payments results in power regulation by the Gencos. Similarly, consumers are expected to promptly make payments on the same lines for their electricity usage and any violations/ breaches whether in making payments or resorting to any illegal methods of drawing electricity are not acceptable. The modern interventions are intended to facilitate better services to the consumers, ultimately aiming to provide 24×7 power supply for all.