Wednesday, July 22, 2009

J&K on verge of power crises

J&K on verge of power crises
By: Salman Nizami

With the arrival of summers, the power situation appears grim in J&K. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that even several important and strategic installations have been deprived of power in view of frequent power curtailments..

JAMMU AND Kashmir may witness long power cuts from May-end onwards as the state is on the verge of a power crisis due to a widening gap between the demand and supply of electricity.
Sources in the power development department (PDD) revealed that a few days back the officials of the department in a plea before the chief secretary contended to provide uninterrupted power supply to consumers and proposed a daily power curtailment of 10 hours in the cities and district headquarters across the state.Even in the month of April, the department had sought the imposition of power cuts but due to the ongoing Lok Sabha (LS) Elections, no power cuts were imposed to keep the voters in good humour.The state has a requirement of about 1800 mw of power per day but it is unable to meet its requirement despite the fact that it is overdrawing as much as 250 mw of power almost on a daily basis. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that even several important and strategic installations have been deprived of power in view of frequent power curtailments.
"Crisis was brewing up in Jammu province particularly where several important areas including the 12 and 23 Rashtriya Rifles in Banihal have not been spared, "informed sources well connected sources and added that a few days back, senior army officials had approached the department as repeated power cuts were posing serious problems to the security forces. Officials expressed grave concern over the problem as it had started affecting their functioning.
"Several equipments were dependent on power and there were other sensitive areas, which needed to be taken care of as this is the operational command," sources informed and added that due to lack of power availability in the province, administration had advised the army officials to purchase their own generators.
Katra town - the abode of Vaishno Devi Shrine - had also been suffering from acute power shortage despite the monthly inflow of over three lakh devotees from across the country.
Since the State is overdrawing power from the northern grid on regular basis and is one of the major defaulters, it has to face shut downs. The industrial sector was also facing a piquant situation with increasing power cuts. While there was scheduled power cut of nearly 8.5 hours on daily basis, the authorities at the helm of affairs were being forced to impose additional unscheduled cut of three or more hours.The public health engineering (PHE) department alone contributed to load of 100 mw and the current crisis was also posing a threat to this area.
Commissioner secretary Sandeep Naik confessed that the state was facing power shortage despite the fact that it was being allowed to overdraw from the power grid."Interestingly, states like J&K and Himachal Pradesh, which have major hydro power potential and provide surplus power to northern grid during summers, emerge as major defaulters during the winter seasons," he said and added, "Often other states have to bear the burden of our excessive withdrawal."“The main reason for the present power shortage was the low power generation due to considerable decrease in water discharge in all the rivers of northern region on account of dry winter”, Naik said and added that Salal Project, having a potential of 680 mw, was providing nearly 40 mw, while Uri (480 mw) Baglihar hydo-electric power project is providing 450 mw and Dullhasti Power Project providing 400 mw.
However, things were comparatively better in Uri as it was not possible to store water in the dam. Same was the case with other hydropower projects in Himachal Pradesh, which are feeding to the grid. "There was no choice but to resort to overdrawing of power and load shedding was bound to happen when the power frequency touched as low as 49 at times," he said and added, "we should be thankful to New Delhi for allowing us to overdraw power and this was possible only after personal intervention of the chief minister and his telephonic interaction with Union power minister a few days back".

Coaching institutes mushroom in Jammu

By: Salman Nizami

Since there are no proper coaching facilities or institutes in other districts, over 90 per cent of the students from across the region rush to Jammu for coaching. The mushrooming of coaching institutions is becoming a cause for concern for parents..

IT MAY well be a silent industry of Rs. 100 crore annual turnover in the winter capital city of Jammu and Kashmir but Rs 12 to 15 crore is precisely what some two dozen odd coaching institutions are up to make in the early summer this year as around 8000 students are running between places to secure a seats in professional colleges.Once the 10+2 examinations are over, thousands of students from across the Jammu region rush into the winter capital city to get the capsule coaching for the upcoming entrance examinations for various professional examinations conducted annually by the Board of Professional Studies.
The entrance examination this year is due in the month of July and the coaching institutes in Jammu are already filled beyond their capacities. Pick up any leading newspaper in the morning and the last page is full with notices and advertisements of coaching centers promising students the easiest way to professional colleges.
There is a wide range of institutes and a much wider approach to coaching. Some coaching centers have a class of 80 to 120 students huddled together in a hall for a 45 minute lecture and some have more personalized coaching patterns involving 10 to 15 students.
Every year, around 14,000 to 16,000 students appear for the entrance examinations and roughly more than half of the total students belong to Jammu region. Since there are no proper coaching facilities or institutes in other districts, over 90 per cent of the students from across the region rush to Jammu for coaching.While 2000 to 3000 students are drawn from Jammu city itself, nearly 5000 students pour in from different parts of the Jammu region for coaching immediately after the higher secondary school examinations.While around two dozen coaching centers and over 50 prominent individual teachers make good of this season, the coaching months also bring economic spin-offs for locals as students coming from other parts of the region move into the city either as paying guests or take rooms on rent. Bakshi Nagar, Subhash Nagar and Rehari areas are the most favourite housing destinations for these students.
Not long ago, the students used to prepare at their own or take tuitions in small groups but, of late, the mushrooming of coaching centers has become a perilous fashion for both students and their parents as parents classify these institutions of coaching by their higher costs which is becoming trend.Though all the institutions pursue similar syllabuses of similar subjects, the costs at all institutions are different, that too in the ascending order. This certainly is a cause of concern for parents and authorities.However, a number of coaching centres to provide coaching for entrance examinations to various professional courses have already started working here on a large scale.The parents have been complaining that these are only “business establishments, earning money in the name of imparting coaching”, while the instructors at the centers do not devote themselves to teaching in the government educational institutions.
Similarly private schools have cropped up here even as the government schools continue to suffer on account of lack of attention from the concerned authorities.
Among the leading coaching institutes in Jammu include ASL, SR College, SN Dasgupta College, National College, Sachdeva New PT College, Career Point Kota, Mastermind Classes, Apex, Apexel, JKIETER etc.While ASL has on its rolls over 500 students and its fee is Rs. 15000 for the syllabus, the fee structure of SN Dasgupta and Sachdeva is almost of the same order but the number of students on their rolls is around 200 each.
Some institutes are charging as much as Rs. 25000 for the syllabus while some smaller coaching centers with a committed limited number of intake charge even upto Rs. 50000 for three to four months of coaching.

Cost of living : Water is luxury for many in Jammu rural areas

Cost of living: Water is luxury for many in Jammu rural areas

Salman Nizami

JAMMU July 22 : For the family of Sham Lal getting water for domestic use is an uphill task. Everyday the womenfolk in his house had to drive handcart to a nearby village Birpur (Baribrahmana), two kilometers away, to fill up water in barrels and plastic jars from a canal.
Sham’s family in village belt is just one among hundreds of others, who follow similar techniques to meet their daily water requirements. This practice is going on in these villages like this for last so many decades.
Nowadays well off families in the village ensure the delivery of water tanks inside their homes at a cost. For a tractor carrying 1600 liters of water, they have to pay Rs 700. "Since diesel pumps are used to fill up the tanks and barrels and then ferry the same to houses, we charge them the freight that is incurred on the delivery of water barrels," says, a tractor driver.
However, for Sham spending a sum of Rs 700 everyday on water requirement alone is quite unaffordable. People like Sham continue to use handcarts to ferry the tanks and barrels filled with water manually, to use it back home. "Keeping in view my daily income, I can't think of spending such an amount on water for entire one month and not to talk of a single day. I am a poor man and my family brings water like this even daring rains and harsh winters," he said."I don't see any hope in the government and for me water is as precious as oil," says pessimistic Sham.
Non-availability of portable drinking water to the people living in this area is adding up to the worries of villagers. Repeated pleas to the district administration and politicians has not yield any desired result.
Though Public Health Engineering (PHE) department has covered the area under piped water supply but regular water supply to the area is still a distant dream. People say they rarely get tap water. "In a period of one month we receive water supply once or twice for one hour only. So who would rely on that," said Mohan Lal Sharma, an octogenarian in the village.
Mohan says the villagers face a lot of difficulties in wake of water shortage. Women folk in the village have to walk miles to wash dishes and clothes in unhygienic channel. "Successive governments have deliberately ignored us. Since we live in this area they don't bother to care about us. Officials spend money in a wrong manner to fill their pockets. One serious thought to this problem can quench over years of thirst," said Gaurav Sharma, another resident of Birpur Baribrahmana.
Some people in the area managed to dig hand pumps; however the water contains dirt and grit. Its quality has been found unhygienic for consumption. The water has pungent smell and good quantity of Sulphur and iron in it. Even government too is said to have dug a well but that too proved to be a failure."The wells in the area emanate gas for some time and dry up fast," said Ravi Shanker a resident.
Officials at PHE Jammu admit that during summers these areas face acute water shortage but complain the paucity of funds a reason for not ensuring the water supply.
Technical experts say that water supply scheme Baribrahmana that stands already sanctioned for the area need to be upgraded. The source of this scheme is natural spring.
The outskirts of Jammu city too remain hit by absence of continuous supply of drinking water.
Although state government claims that it has taken up several projects to ensure water supply to the people, the huge gap between demand and supply is causing lot of hardships to the residents. So far no non-governmental organization has taken up any project in hand to relieve the people of the problem in wake of constant government apathy.

GMC hospital’s emergency needs ‘emergency surgery’

Salman Nizami
JAMMU July 22 : On last Friday night, a patient namely Nargis Begum of Gujjar Nagar Jammu who was seriously ill and wasn’t even able to move was brought to the Government Medical college and hospital’s emergency ward, her attendants accompanied her found no empty bed or chair and realized how hard life could be in a hospital in Jammu.
First there was no chair or a bed around where the patient could be placed. After hectic efforts, when a chair was found, the doctor in the emergency was apparently in no mood to examine the patient.
The attendant insisted the doctor to examine the patient. But ostensibly tired of the hard work, he casually enquired what the patient’s problem was. It irritated the attendant. Before he could say anything more, the doctor asked the attendant to get the admit card.
To get the admit card is a Herculean task. Everyone there is in hurry but for the person who issues the card. It takes at least 20 minutes to get the card. And every minute counts when it is a question of human life.
He got the admit card and placed it before the doctor. He looked at the card and started examining another patient. Infuriated, the attendant shouted at the doctor. The young doctor shouted back. But soon he realized the agony of the attendant and agreed to examine the patient. After half an hour, the patient was asked to go for an x-ray and ECG. After checking the reports of x-ray and ECG, the doctor told the attendant that the patient needs cardiac checkup, which isn’t possible in the evening. A senior doctor pleading anonymity told this correspondent that, “In all the super specialty hospitals across India,
Emergency wards are well equipped with basic facilities, but at GMC Jammu, it is a mess. All the facilities should be under one roof in emergency, but I’m at loss to understand why authorities here are playing with the lives of patients.”
But the larger question remains? When will this institute of Jammu continue to live with dying emergency wards? It has more patients, less doctors and a very few beds. Appreciating the write up in Early Times in the months of June 2009 issue that there in only one blood pressure apparatus, next day 10 new BP apparatus were made available in the emergency. Completing admission formalities here are more important than saving life. Two or three junior doctors have to attend hundreds of patients visiting the emergency and in case of any blast or accident, the situation turns graver. Medical Superintendent GMC agrees with the views, but with a caveat. “We need a separate emergency to cater the huge rush of patients.
The Medical Superintendent said that on short-term basis, the existing emergency would be renovated. “We’re doing some re-structuring of the emergency and creating backup wards.”
But he also blamed people for creating mess in the emergency. “GMC is a specialty hospital. But patients who should be treated in primary health centers also flood the GMC, which creates the mess. Quality and quantity can never go together,” he added.