At a time when the Kashmir valley is reeling under a power crisis and facing a shortage of over 900 MW under the extreme cold weather, its politicians, bureaucrats and other high-profile businessmen are using the electricity without paying dues.
The State Power Development Department which issued a long list of its major defaulters among the local dailies on January 15 mentions the names of ex-minister, Asiea Naqash, her security team, Irfan Reza Ansari, who is the brother of ex-minister, Imran Ansari and the high profile business family of Trumboo among others.
According to PDD, Asiea Naqash who belongs to an influential political and business family from downtown Srinagar and her security team owe a sum of Rs 44 lakh to the power department.
Irfan Ansari, who is the brother of an ex-cabinet minister and slated to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections is a defaulter who has not paid his electricity tariff of Rs 50 lakh to the government.
The Trumboos, owning a conglomerate of hotels, food processing and cement among other industries owe the Power Department more than Rs 2 crore, as per the defaulter list.
Shockingly, the major defaulters also include the government departments as well as police officials.
The PDD has given a deadline of 15 days to its defaulters for the payment of their dues or else face the power disconnect.
Under the prevailing sub-zero temperatures, there are 8-10 hours of routine power cuts in Srinagar daily and for longer durations in other districts. The PDD is currently supplying 1300 MW of electricity to various districts in the valley although the demand peaks up to 2200 MW.
As such, people are made to suffer in extremely cold weather due to the shortage of electricity.
The district administrations have expressed helplessness over the matter and have reasoned that the power shortage is due to the illegal connections and power theft, which has not been contained till date.
"When it comes to common people, the state government is quick at extracting fees, penalties but the VIPs and other politicians seemingly have not paid their dues for years. Only a common man is being made to suffer," Ayaz Ahmad, a Srinagar resident said.