Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s critics say he and his son, Union Minister of State Omar Abdullah, are both daydreamers.While the father chases the autonomy mirage, the son wants to convert Srinagar into an IT city a la Chandrababu Naidu. Junior Abdullah’s problem is that he wants to realise his dream while his father’s power development department leads weber electric smoker Kashmir from light into darkness.
Only a day before the State’s first software technology park (described by Omar Abdullah as a “big leap forward on the IT superhighway by J&K”) was inaugurated by the Chief Minister in the presence of Union Minister for Information Technology Pramod Mahajan, the State’s power development department announced 73 hours of load shedding a week in the Valley.
“This being the power scenario, turning Kashmir into a cyber city is merely wild thinking and rubbing salt on the wounds of Kashmiris,” said Nadeem Ahmad, a student at a local computer institute.
Within a week, however, the power department set an all-time record of power cuts 18 hours a day, or 173 hours a week. According to the new arrangement, there are six hours of load shedding after every three hours of power supply.
In plain terms, it means there are only three hours of electricity in a day, and as much at night when it is of no use in Kashmir. “Net surfing is a distant dream now, we don’t have electricity to watch TV or iron our clothes,” says journalist Imdad Saqi.
Jammu and Kashmir is already reeling under the coldest part of the winter, known as chilai kakan, and it is terrible to be without power for almost 24 hours. The bitterness is already showing on the streets. The people have protested against what they call step-motherly treatment of Kashmiris.
Their anger is compounded by the fact that the power tariff was increased manifold recently and the administration was forcing consumers to enter into new contracts at much higher rates.
In the southern town of Anantnag, people on Saturday took to the streets and shopkeepers downed their shutters to protest against the “discrimination.” The local pellet smoker chamber of commerce has announced a programme of “no electricity, no tariff.”
Local newspapers have published stories drawing comparisons with Jammu, where load shedding hours are lesser than in the Valley. One local daily accused the state power development department of being under the influence of the Sangh Parivar for its alleged anti-Kashmir posture.