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Electricity remains dream for 10,000 Kashmiri villages

Electricity generation in Indian-controlled Kashmir is more that 100 years old affair. It was in 1905 that region's first Hydro Power House started generating electricity and illuminating the houses.

However, 104 years down the line, hundreds of the villages and hamlets are yet to be electrified, says a recent government survey conducted by a Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency in the region, putting the number of un-electrified villages and hamlets at 309 and 9,525 respectively.

"As per the survey in every district of this state, we have un- electrified villages and hamlets.

Even in the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu, we have such villages and hamlets," said a government official.

Residents in these villages have been relying on traditional methods as a means to illuminate their rooms during evenings.

They accuse the government apathy as the reason for non-availability of electricity in their villages.

"Politicians who get elected from our areas have been promising us that electricity supply would be ensured. But the promises are yet to be translated into reality.

We light the wood or oil lamps to keep the rooms glowing during evenings," said Jalal-u-Din, an elderly person of Halanpati village of Kulgam district.

The power development department officials have been saying that electrification of such villages through conventional grid is technically not permissible and would be economically unviable.

While India-controlled Kashmir has the potential to generate around 20,000 MW of electricity, hitherto only 13 percent of this huge potential has been explored.

The government has been able to tap about 1500 MW of electricity, out of that 1,170 MW belong to federal sector. From this, the region gets just a minuscule of royalty.

"Kashmir has the history of hosting one of the earliest, in fact second, hydro power houses in entire South Asia way back in 1905, with the first power house was build in Mysore in Karnataka, southern India.

More than 100 years have passed but the potential is nowhere to be tapped as the corruption, disinterested government, flawed policies, political instability and other reasons have marred the process," says Haroon Mirani, Srinagar based analyst.

The region has a demand of about 1,500 MW. However, it is not met by current power availability of about 800 MW.

As a result there are power cuts of about 10 hours daily and in winters the load shedding can shoot beyond 20 hours a day.

Experts say the water-sharing pact reached by Indian and Pakistan in 1960 known as Indus Water Treaty (IWT) is an impediment in harnessing the power potential in India-controlled Kashmir. Xinhua



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