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Amid cold wave, electricity plays truant in villages near Baramulla town

A vehicle moves slowly on a snow-covered road during season's first snowfall at Gulmarg, in Baramulla District of North Kashmir, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.

A vehicle moves slowly on a snow-covered road during season's first snowfall at Gulmarg, in Baramulla District of North Kashmir, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Kashmir plunged into a worst-ever power crisis on November 14 when snowfall uprooted electricity poles and damaged transmission lines across the Valley

It is for the seventh straight day that over a dozen adjoining villages of Baramulla town in north Kashmir have gone without electricity amid the ongoing cold wave. Tractors and private vehicles are new charging points for mobile phones and chargeable lights. Patients and students are the worst sufferers.

Khalid Khan, a resident of Heevan village, less than 10 km of Baramulla town, is one of hundreds of worried parents of school children appearing for Class X and Class XII examinations. “My son, Abid Khan, is preparing for Class X examinations. He finds it hard to study under a candlelight after sundown and keeps shivering in the cold wave. It is going to impact his performance as well as health,” said Mr. Khan. Around 1.10 lakh students are preparing for the examinations in the Valley this year and have to prepare without any electricity.

Kashmir plunged into a worst-ever power crisis on Thursday when snowfall uprooted electricity poles and damaged transmission lines across the Valley. According to the Power Development Department, at least 12 220 KVA towers and six 132 KVA towers were fully damaged.

Ambitious plan falls flat

The crisis comes in a year when the Centre’s Power Ministry announced its ambitious plan earlier this year to provide round-the-clock electricity supply in winter in the newly carved Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Centre’s ambitious plan seems to be falling flat in Baramulla’s Heevan Numblan, Zamzam Pura, Gulistan, Dangerpora, etc. areas which are less than 10 km away from the town and without electricity for a week now. In fact, electricity was restored in Baramulla town on Tuesday after a six-day blackout.

The family of Khaliq Dar, a patient who requires oxygen supply, has been shifted to Srinagar. “Living in Baramulla would have proven detrimental for the health of my father,” said Mr. Dar’s elder son. “This is worst crisis in my living memory,” he added.

Scores of water supply schemes dependent on electricity have come to a halt too. “Water schemes are normal only in areas were the electricity supply has been restored. The Public Health Engineering Department has made diesel generators operational in many places in Baramulla. However, water supply in the areas of Rafiabad belt could not be restored,” said Executive Engineer Ravi Bakshi. The police and the Army have pressed their water tankers into service to meet the demands in Baramulla town.

250 additional electricity poles

According to officials, out of a population of 30 lakh only 3-4 lakh has seen electricity restored in north Kashmir Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipura districts.

Commissioner Secretary Hritesh Kumar Singh said he has approved 250 additional electricity poles for all districts in the Valley and 50 new transformers for Anantnag, Kupwara and Baramulla. According to the Power Department officials, 90% electricity supply stands restored in Srinagar and Ganderbal. However, only 50% is restored in Shopian and Budgaum districts, and 80% in Pulwama and Kupwara districts.

An unease has gripped the locals again as the Meteorological Department has predicted a fresh snowfall in Kashmir from November 14. “There will be a moderate snowfall from Thursday evening and will continue till November 16,” said Additional Director, MET, Mukhtar Ahmad.

All main hospitals in the Valley have procured additional generators to meet any eventuality. “We have procured extra generators for ventilators and heating system,” said medical superintendent of the G.B. Pant Hospital, the Valley's lone government-run paediatric hospital.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:24:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/amid-cold-wave-electricity-plays-truant-in-villages-near-baramulla-town/article29969375.ece

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