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‘Under Amnesty Scheme, J&K consumers can pay pending arrears in 12 months’

In an interview with KNO’s senior editor, Owais Gul, Chief Engineer, Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL) talks about the winter preparedness, smart meters installations, daily wagers and other issues.

Ready to tackle any situation in winters, curtailments hours to reduce, SRO-43 benefits only for permanent employees, temporary employees covered under insurance scheme, safety tools, kits to ensure safety of employees, Sgr pockets identified for underground cabling: CE

Interview Excerpts:

KNO: Tell us something about the amnesty scheme, the response of the public and how much amount has been collected?

Reply: The amnesty scheme was launched by the government of Jammu and Kashmir for consumers, who have over past years accumulated huge arrears, which consists of two parts—Principal amount and late payment surcharge. The government has given an option to the general public to pay the principal amount only with a total 100 per cent waiver of surcharge. A consumer, who becomes part of amnesty scheme, can liquidate his arrears that is only the principal amount in a maximum of 12 installments. In this regard, we have organized a number of camps across Kashmir. So far, the response is good and at the end of this month, we will get to know how much of revenue on account of the amnesty scheme has been collected. We expect to get a response for the scheme.

KNO: Tell us something about winter preparedness. What has been done this year to end the power woes in winters?

Reply: If we go just three years back, we were supplying a peak of 1200 MWs during the winter time. Due to the capacity addition at transmission and at distribution level, a number of new grid stations have come, while the existing grid stations capacity have been enhanced. On the distribution side, we have been able to add more than 80 receiving stations in the last three years. Similarly, the distribution transformers have been added to the system, because of which we are in a position to supply more power. Last year, we touched a peak of 1750 MWs against 1200 MWs some years back, thus there has been an appreciable increase of 550 MWs that was supplied to the consumers last year. This year, because of the various capacity enhancements that have taken place over the last few months, we expect to go around 1900MWs. The major activity that has been conducted after harvesting of paddy is the branch cutting, which is necessary as the lines are at risk due to branches. As per past practices, the stabilization of lines and massive branch cuttings along the roots, augmentation of some critical lines have been done. Reconductoring of two major lines—220KV Wagoora Line and 132 KV Mir Bazar Wanpoh line are being done while the KPDCL has also gone for buffer stock. There is adequate stock of poles and other things available in every district.

KNO: What about the curtailment hours? Will it reduce this winter?

Reply: Over the past few years, we have been able to gradually improve the power supply from 1200 MWs; we were able to supply 1750 MWs last year. Definitely, this has resulted in far better power situation during the winters and has reduced the power curtailment, particularly, if we see in Pulwama belt, there has been a massive improvement in power situation because of the creation of new grid station at Lassipora, likewise in north Kashmir, we have doubled the capacity from 160 KVA to 320 MVA, Delina station is now being further augment by adding one more 160 MVA transformer bank. So, we will see some further improvement, but ultimately, the onus lies on the consumer on how to use the electricity. A consumer has an agreement with KPDCL. It is the responsibility of people also to use electricity judiciously by not resorting to overload and excessive use of heating load, particularly the crude gadgets, which basically leads to an overloading of the system, because of which we have to resort to load shedding.

KNO: As the power schedule has not been issued yet, but people claim that the pesky power and low voltage has started haunting them?

Reply: There has been some power curtailment during the month of October. We were going on with the line stabilization work and branch cutting for which we had to take shutdowns of 33 and 11 KV lines because this is opportune time as the weather isn’t so cold as yet and I said the harvesting has already taken place and fields are clear, so, our staff can work freely along those lines and we had to during the month of October take shutdowns because of which there has been some disruption of power supply and transmission is carrying of reconductoring of two major lines due to which we had to resort to some curtailments. The works have been almost completed, but on these transmission lines, the work will be completed on November 15. However, as the weather is not so cold yet, the power demand has increased by 30-40 percent.

KNO: What are the reasons for low voltage?

Reply: Low voltage is definitely possible as when you go for excessive use of heating gadgets, which means you are drawing heavy current from the system and that will result in voltage drops and in certain areas can cause low voltage. The solution for this problem is to use the load within their registered limits.

KNO: The government is focused towards smart meters. How many have been installed?

Reply: 1.50 lac smart meters were to be installed in cities of Srinagar and Jammu in phase-I. 57,750 smart meters were to be installed in Srinagar, which have been completed and in the phase-II, around three lac meters are to be installed in Srinagar. Out of them, the first contract of 1.5 lac meters has already been awarded and the work has started. Under the new scheme, RDSS, 100 percent of coverage of all consumers through smart meters is to be achieved in the next three years.

KNO: Many daily wagers from the department were either electrocuted to death or got wounded. What is the department doing for them and what sort of ex gratia is being provided to them and how many daily wagers at present are with KPDCL?

Reply: A total of 6180 daily wagers are presently working with KPDCL, who are regularly getting their wages. KPDCL is taking the unfortunate accident cases very seriously and has taken certain steps including making available the safety tools, safety kits like helmets, safety belts. We have also made available local earthing discharge rods through which the staff can locally earth the lines. We have also made available high voltage detectors to the staff with which they can detect whether the line is live even without touching it. The problem basically lies with the compliance that means wherever the staff (Both temporary and permanent) don’t comply with the SOPs, because while working on the electric network, there are certain safety norms, which are to be followed. So, once our staff does a shortcut, there is a very high chance of getting electrocuted. We have been trying to sensitize and train our staff regarding SOPs for which we have been regularly conducting awareness camps at the sub division level so that the staff becomes aware of the procedures and the measures which are being taken so that they may not face any eventuality or meet any accident. Also, we are procuring more safety equipment for which the orders have been also done. There will be drastic reduction in the number of such accidents once the employees become habitual of taking safety norms and using the safety tools. Regarding the ex gratia and other modalities, our temporary employees are already covered under insurance schemes.

KNO: What about the SRO-43 benefits?

Reply: The SRO-43 as per the government norms is only applicable for permanent employees. But, we have nonetheless taken up the issue with the higher ups and maybe at some point of time, some sort of relief will be extended to them as well. In the case of permanent employees, the Next of Kin is provided with the job if there is any eventuality. So far, most of the cases upto now have been completed.

KNO: Is there any proposal about underground cabling?

Reply: As of now, we have completed the underground cabling at three places only, which include Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg where the whole 11KV network and LT network have been laid underground. Some pockets in Srinagar have been identified under smart city project like bund and Lal chowk area, where the underground cabling will be taken. We have to understand that the underground cabling is a very costly affair and may be in our city and Mohallas, we don’t have necessary right of way, proper road where we can go for underground cabling, but anyway it’s a very costly affair, thus this would depend on the availability of funds.

KNO: There is a prediction of a wet spell, is KPDCL ready to tackle the situation?

Reply: We have already started preparations and KPDCL is prepared to deal with any situation.

KNO: Any message to the consumers?

Reply: Definitely, my appeal and message to the consumers would be to use electricity judiciously and avoid using crude heaters and boilers. Use electricity as per the load registered with KPDCL, which would help us in providing better supply to the people.

—(KNO)

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