The Jammu and Kashmir government today assured the electrification of 102 villages by March next year and 2.70 lakh households by 2019 in the state under a central government scheme. Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, who also holds the power portfolio in the state, said for the first time in the country, helicopters were used to install electricity transmission towers while laying the Jalandhar-Samba and Samba-Amargarh lines. The project was completed 18 months ahead of the deadline, he told reporters at a press meet here. “For the first time in India, helicopters were used to install transmission poles. A total of 102 villages have been earmarked for electrification by March. The project plans to cover the rest of the households that do not have electricity by 2019 with 30 free units for each,” he said.
A survey based on the last census put the number of houses without power supply at 2.70 lakh, he added. The minister, however, clarified that the first phase would cover the panchayat ghar, Public Health Engineering Centre, school, medical centre and 20 per cent of the households. “While 52 villages — 11 in Kashmir and 41 in the Jammu region — would receive power by December, the other 50 would be electrified by March,” he said. Asked about the challenges in laying power lines in the Valley, the deputy CM said lack of manpower, inhospitable weather and terrain, and terrorism were some of the problems the department faced in far-flung areas. “The department is working very hard meet the deadline despite roadblocks,” he said.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his initiatives, including the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme to supply electricity to the poor in the country, Singh said various centrally sponsored projects, worth Rs 11,000 crore, were being implemented in the state. He said the electrification of three villages, including Kali Masta in Ramban district, has been completed.
The power minister further said that a meeting has been scheduled on October 10 to review various projects announced by the prime minister for the state. “We have invited Union power minister R K Singh to join the meeting,” he said. Singh said the central government has given special concession to Jammu and Kashmir. “Instead of 60 per cent grants and 40 per cent loan, as is the norm in the rest of the country, Jammu and Kashmir will get 85 per cent grants and 15 per cent loan under the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme,” he said. Seeking cooperation of the people, Singh said, “Our attempt is to provide quality service to the consumers and we are working on improving the infrastructure.”
On transmission and distribution losses, Singh said 22,146 inspections were conducted in the state this year during which 12 MW load was regularised in the Jammu region and 10.5 MW load in Kashmir. “We are working on a major project to improve the infrastructure and minimise the losses. The inspection has revealed that even the government offices were not paying monthly fee,” he said, adding the losses have been minimised to a large extent and the government departments are not included in the list of defaulters anymore. Asked about Rs 1.87-crore outstanding bill of a prominent hotel here, Singh said, “If I have utilised power, I have to pay. Similarly, if the hotel has dues pending, it needs to clear the bill. Rules are same for everyone,” he said.