J&K: Parties Hold Protest Against Ongoing Power Crisis in Kashmir
Congress leaders and workers raise slogans during a protest over unscheduled power cuts, in Srinagar, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI Photo/S. Irfan
Srinagar: On Thursday, several workers of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) held a protest outside their party headquarters in Srinagar against the worsening power situation in the region.
Amongst the protesters were former minister Asia Naqash and other senior party leaders, including Ab Qayoom Bhat, Arif Laigroo, Iqbal Tramboo, Rouf Bhat, Sheikh Saba, Zaid Gowher who voiced their concern against the increasing power crisis as they demanded immediate redress by the administration.
"The promises made by the administration about smart meters were meant to bring relief, not exacerbate the people's woes. It is disheartening to see the government exploit the situation and burden the citizens further," Naqash told reporters during the protest.
The demonstrators raised slogans while holding placards and posters that read – End Darkness in Kashmir, We Deserve Better than this – demanding an end to unscheduled power cuts. The police, however, thwarted the protestors from marching towards the main road.
According to a party statement, the protest was aimed at drawing attention to the administration's failure to deliver on its promises and to demand transparency regarding the implementation and impact of the smart meter initiative.
“The people of Kashmir deserve answers and concrete actions to resolve the pressing power crisis,” a party spokesperson said.
The party urged the administration to reassess its approach, address the genuine concerns of the public, and work towards a sustainable solution that truly benefits the citizens of Kashmir.
The power crisis, according to the locals, has reached a critical point, leaving citizens grappling with prolonged blackouts and enduring severe hardships.
“Despite tall claims by the LG administration about the installation of smart meters to alleviate power issues and ensure uninterrupted supply, the ground reality tells a different story,” the party added.
For the metered areas, there is a schedule of power cuts for 4.5-6 hours and about 8-10 hours for non-metered areas, but, according to the locals, the schedule has not been followed on the ground, triggering the crisis.
The protesters added that the people, who are already burdened by the acute power crisis, are now finding themselves facing higher tariffs, leading to a sense of betrayal by the government that promised them relief. “The increased financial burden, coupled with persistent power shortages, has compromised basic necessities, plunging many households into darkness,” the party said.
A similar protest was held by workers of the Congress party inside their party headquarters at the Maulana Azad Road in Srinagar. “The protest was aimed to highlight the plight of people of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the valley where healthcare, business, and student education are facing major challenges due to the power crisis. All the claims by the LG administration have failed,” a protester told reporters.
The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir VK Bidhuri, however, on Wednesday told a local news agency, Kashmir News Service, that power supply in the region would be improved within a week.
"This year, we encountered two issues, which include the early onset of the severe winter season and less rainfall in the current year, besides an issue with power capacity generation at the local level. But the Lieutenant Governor has taken up the issue, and hopefully, the supply will be improved within a week," Bidhuri said.
The protests on Thursday come after parties, including the National Conference, Apni Party and others, civil society groups and trade organisations have been calling attention to the power crisis in the region.
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