No let-up in protests against smart meter installation

Srinagar, Jul 13: Protests against smart meters continue in various parts of Srinagar, with people refusing to allow the power department officials to install the devices which they believe will incur “hefty” bills.

These projects are a routine now, with people taking to the streets on a daily basis, terming smart meters as unacceptable.

More than two dozen protests have been recorded in Srinagar alone, while the opposition continues in other parts of the valley, especially in north Kashmir areas.

The people in the summer capital Srinagar said that smart meters are not acceptable to them and that they won’t allow authorities to install these devices.

A resident from Rainawari said, “We are a middle-class family and don’t have that much money to pay for these meters. Those meters which have already been installed in our areas must be removed.”

“I am a poor and middle-class woman. Currently, we receive an electricity bill of 920 to 950 rupees per month. We are ready for even Rs 1,100 as a flat rate but not these meters,” said a lady.

On Wednesday, people were seen shouting and dancing on roads to register their protest against the power department in the Sopore area of Baramulla district.

The Chief Engineer, KPDCL, Javed Yousuf Dar, said that these protests “will do nothing”.

The ongoing project of installing smart meters in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir will not be in vain. “Smart meters have to be installed today, as well as in the future,” he said.

“As you have witnessed, protests have occurred in the past, but nothing significant resulted from them, and ultimately, the smart meters were installed,” the Chief Engineer said, adding, “There is no difference between smart meters and regular meters, except for one additional feature: providing consumers with automatic readings on their mobile phones or other smart devices.”

Earlier, in 2020, amid complaints of inadequate electricity, the Power Development Department (PDD) started installing smart meters on a trial basis in the Srinagar area. Authorities said the move will help consumers become aware of their regular consumption.

Sanctioned under the Prime Minister Development Programme (PMDP), the government in 2020 said that 20,000 meters would be installed in the twin cities in the first phase, and the process would continue in a phased manner until all two lakh meters are installed.kno

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