India’s northernmost areas in Jammu & Kashmir have now been connected to the national electricity network to bring ‘one-nation-one-grid’ closer to reality. Made possible by an engineering feat by state-run transmission utility PowerGrid.
PowerGrid and Jammu and Kashmir power department recently switched on the Alusteng-Alunday stretch of the 350-kilometer Srinagar-Kargil-Leh transmission line. Tracing some of the world’s highest mountain ranges and harsh terrains which separate the Kashmir Valley from the frontier districts of Ladakh and Kargil.
“This is a milestone for our country. We have now connected our northernmost areas to the national grid. It is a milestone for the people of Ladakh and Kargil. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone on August 12, 2014, and it was commissioned during this government’s tenure. This is a commitment to people’s welfare,” Minister of Power, New & Renewable Energy, RK Singh told TOI.
According to sources, upon turning on power flowed for four hours through the 220-kV line and its four sub-stations connecting Leh with the northern grid at Alusteng near Srinagar.
With the project now complete and the line operational, the government expects a drastic improvement in the quality of life which will stem from the 24X7 power supply in the strategically important region, which sees long and harsh winters with temperatures dipping to 50 degrees below freezing.
Leh and Kargil towns have been getting power since 2013 from two NHPC hydel projects, built at a combined cost of nearly Rs 2,000 crore at Nimmoo-Bazgo and Chutak, respectively. The Srinagar line will allow the stations to run at full capacity, feeding surplus power into the northern grid during summer and draw 100-150 MW in winter when reduced flow impedes generation.
In the long term, the line will help Ladakh-Kargil region emerge as India’s powerhouse by allowing evacuation of power from proposed solar projects with aggregate capacity of 7.5 GW.