Life in Darkness

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Come winters and Kashmir slips into perpetual darkness. If one looks from sky one can see nothing but darkness enveloping the valley. The absence of electricity from people’s lives has been part of now folklores and many stories. People working with electricity department command equal respect and treatment as groom’s family members during weddings if one wants to avoid marrying in the darkness. There are stories where grooms have actually landed at wrong addresses because of power-cuts. Jokes apart, in last sixty years, when the world has moved from darkness to lights, Kashmir plunged deeper into the dark. It is an unsaid rule to get geared up for protests and demonstrations as winter arrives because of mindless power outages. Kashmir being one of the major hydroelectricity hubs produces more than it requires but lack of proper distribution and mismanagement leaves people in misery. A major portion of Kashmir’s power quota is lost in transmission which can be easily saved if a proper system is put in place. But then politicians would be left with nothing to promise if they illuminate our lives once and forever. What will be their election agenda one wonders! In last sixty years local politicians have exploited power crisis like anything. Once they are safely stationed in Jammu as Darbar moves, they sympathise with their voters through media rather than making their lives better. One of the major reasons why a larger part of population moves towards warmer climes during winters is absence of electricity in Kashmir. Compared to other colder places across the world winters look harsher in Kashmir as we have no proper system in place to keep ourselves warm. It would not be day-dreaming if one imagines homes with modern heating systems which run on electricity. Given the resources we have it is an achievable dream. With bulk of power produced in Kashmir sent to Northern grid as poll quota, what is sent back is not sufficient keeping our special requirements in view. A larger part of 2013 debate was dominated by demands of handing over the control of valley based power projects to the state. But that never happened. A part of debate avoided to find faults in Kashmir’s troubled history.

New Delhi’s attitude towards power crisis in Kashmir made separatists term the entire crisis as neo-colonialism. But conflict apart, power crisis in Kashmir have reached an irritating point which makes people’s lives unliveable when mercury hits below zero.

It is true that over the years people have learned how to live without electricity, but that should not be the excuse for keeping them in dark.

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