Power shortage or mismanagement

Er Vikram Gaur
Why is it that every year, for the last over two decades, in thick of every summer or winter season when the power system has to meet the maximum demand of the public seeking relief from the worst weather conditions of heat and cold the power system is at its worst?
Any increase in power supply due to increased power generation is nullified by ever increasing unchecked demand and ever mounting T&D power losses. Any number of Scheduled and unscheduled power cuts make the common man’s life miserable, Water supply is badly affected, the industrial production is at its lowest, lakhs of Pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi and Sri Amar Nath ji, local public as well as tourists to the valley face the worst unbearable conditions of power during the peak tourist season and the business as a whole suffers.
The PDD has been giving all plausible reasons of ‘demand much more than power supply, available from different sources including Northern Grid and its own power projects under PDC within the state, over loading of 132/33 kv Grid Stations, overloading of 33/11 kv stations, 33kv and 11kv feeders, over loading of distribution transformers, unwarranted increase in power load due to rampant use of Air Conditioners/ heating appliances including large scale theft and consequent increase in T&D losses.
During the last couple of days a lot has been reported in the media highlighting the public discomfort due to equipment including 10-MVA Transformer, 11-kv-Penals and 11kv freshly laid Cable getting damaged, innumerable unscheduled Power cuts/break downs affecting all sections of society including local house holders and common people sweating and spending sleepless nights in unbearable and unprecedented hot weather and have forced them to come out in the streets to protest.
The authorities have not been able to explain the reasons except attributing the power cuts due to ‘demand more than the supply’ from Northern Grid and local generating stations and overloading of the system. They do not talk of unprecedented T&D losses of over 70% (highest in the country) out of which only 15-16% is actual Transmission & Distribution loss and rest of it is pure theft with or without the connivance of the PDD staff.
They do not talk of power interruptions due to overloading of entire supply and distribution system right from 132/33 kV grid stations to 33/11kv stations and feeders that force the PDD to curtail power to save their equipment. This is inspite of the fact that PDD is supposed to have spent crores of Rupees for improving the power supply system under APDRP (Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme). This included strengthening of Transmission Lines and adding to the existing capacity of Grid Stations as per requirement. Now to further strengthen/improve the distribution System to reduce losses by converting existing distribution system into High Voltage Distribution System (HVDS) GOI has launched R-APDRP and has placed an amount of Rs 1817.26 crores at the disposal of J&K Govt, out of which Jammu Region (two times the area of Kashmir Region) will get Rs 830-crores and Kashmir gets Rs 987-crores, 157-crores more than Jammu. The contract of carrying out works in Jammu under R-APDRP has been allotted to IRCON who are at the job now. This work of improving the distribution system that is supposed to improve the power supply has further added to the woes of the consumers in Jammu as IRCON is availing power shut downs for more than 6-8 hours at a time to carry out the works under R-APDRP. In violation of the MOU the IRCON has further sub-let the work to local small time contractors who are getting the Distribution System Improvement works done by untrained labor who are unaware of the technicalities involved in executing specialized work. This has further deteriorated power supply system resulting in added breakdowns.
As per the MOU executed by IRCON with PDD the entire work under RAPDRP is to be supervised by specified qualified engineers and technicians. As a matter fact the Power break downs/shut downs as of now are due to a number of reasons including over-loading of Grid Stations, Transmission Lines, 33-kv lines, 33/11-kv Transformers and 11-kv lines besides overall shortage of power and of course due to leakage, theft and misuse of un-metered power supply.
Unfortunately, the entire power system, managed by bureaucrats and controlled by politicians has gone from bad to worse with every passing day. A system that sustains more than 60% loss due to theft alone has not been allowed to be 100% metered due to the vested interests including political and has ignored the GOI directions (for more than 20-Yrs) to carry out Energy Audit to pin-point the reasons and the source of trouble, is destined to collapse. Although, hundreds of crores of rupees have been spent yet there is no visible improvement in both quantity and quality of powers supply. The sources reveal that information dished out for public consumption by politicians and bureaucrats is not correct. There been has no significant effort to reduce power theft and unauthorized use of power. The PDD has not even fully metered its consumers (only around 54% consumers are properly metered) giving them full freedom to steal and misuse electricity as much as they want. PDD has not even cared to use a simple method of providing an insulated ‘neutral cable’ along its LT distribution network that will almost eliminate illegal hooking of Low Tension (LT) lines (passing very close to the houses) that is so rampant in sub-urban, rural and even in heart of the major cities.
Thousands of Juggies are being allowed to misuse power without meters far beyond their sanctioned loads. Although State Electricity Regulatory Commission has prohibited issuing new connections without meter yet the PDD is freely sanctioning new connections without meters to allow rampant misuse of electricity. As recently revealed in reply to an RTI that most of the VVIPs/VIPs (Politicians and bureaucrats) are mercilessly misusing electricity in their official houses without caring for their voters who put them in VVIP position. These and many other factors are also responsible for day to day increase in so called T&D losses of the power system.
Added to the above mismanagement is absolute absence of preventive maintenance of the distribution system that is tremendously overloaded much beyond its capacity.
The shortage of funds and inadequacy of technical staff forces the PDD to
attend to only breakdown maintenance under forced conditions of failed
power supply.
The 33/11kv, stations are in poor conditions getting overloaded due to unchecked/ unmetered demand, forcing the authorities to curtail power both from grid stations as well from 33kv stations to prevent damage to the equipment. Power shut downs are resorted to at different levels without proper coordination between Grid Stations and 33kv stations managed by system operation and Maintenance wings of the PDD. Due to no Preventive Maintenance, inadequacy of the Transmission & Distribution system and non coordination further adds up to avoidable power cuts.
This anomaly of work coordination and inadequacy of the sub transmission system to evacuate power from 220/132 kv grid stations is not on the priority list of the PDD although it has been brought to the notice of the PDD authorities in several meetings with PDD/government authorities. Unless this chronic inadequacy of evacuation of power from the Grid Stations to the distribution network of under capacity 33kv lines and over loaded 33/11kv stations (that should have been taken care of long back) coupled with proper preventive Maintenance, 100% metering and prevention of theft/ misuse of power is not addressed power cuts will continue for years to come no matter how much the Chief Minister boasts of taking up additional power projects.
This, however, cannot be done without completely unbundling of the entire mismanaged, totally government controlled and politically managed power system and changing it into genuine, autonomous and indepen
dent Generation, Transmission
and Distribution power utilities/Corporations independent of political interference in their day
today working.
The existing JKPDC, PDD and Transmission and distribution Utilities are totally government controlled
agencies working exclusively under Politician Controlled Babus ever ready to corner and exploit Central Government’s liberal funding.
These funds so far have been used for purposes other than improving/maintaining the existing power system and reducing the T&D Losses (highest in the country) by the State Finance Ministry which has been receiving the funds.
The result is that the system remains as poor and inadequate as it was years back. It is time new Young Chief Minister takes Power Ministry seriously and appoints full time Minister in-charge of Power who has vision to improve
power sector.

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