72 Years After Independence, Leh and Kargil Connected to National Electricity Grid

Leh and Kargil, two of India’s most difficult and inhospitable terrains, have finally been connected to the national electricity grid. This feat, achieved after 72 years of independence, was made possible by the government’s PowerGrid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), a state-run transmission utility.

According to the update posted by PowerGrid on Twitter, on January 11, 2019, Ladakh was successfully connected to Kashmir through a 220 kV transmission system. “The Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Department (JKPDD) along with PGCIL test charged 220 kV Alusteng-Dras-Kargil-Khalsti-Leh transmission line along with 220/66kV S/s at Dras, Kargil, Khalsti, and Leh,” it said.

The Union Minister for Power, R.K. Singh also commented on the achievement through his Twitter account, calling it a ‘significant milestone’.

“Now, people of Ladakh will be able to access as much power as they need,” Singh said.

This connection assumes significance considering the harsh terrain of the region which undergoes long, severe winter months often cutting it off from most of the country.  Due to its difficult landscape, most of the Ladakh region was not connected to the grid with the rest of the country until now. Because of this, power demand of the area was met by local small hydel and diesel generators. During winters, generation from hydro projects is reduced considerably whereas power demand increases. While in summers, hydel generation is at its highest whereas demand is generally low. Therefore, to have uninterrupted power supply in and around Ladakh area, connectivity with Northern Region Grid was envisaged. Moreover, due to presence of defense establishments in the area and its strategic importance, there was an increased need to get the region connected with rest of the grid.

This power-starved region of the country has managed to get the attention of the government with the Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI) issuing a Request for Selection (RfS) for the development of 7,500 MW of grid-connected solar power projects in Leh and Kargil districts of Jammu & Kashmir. The total capacity of 7,500 MW has been divided into three packages of 2,500 MW each.  The package-A will be set up in the areas tentatively identified in Zanskar sub-division and Tai Suru block of Kargil district. Packages B and C will be developed at Hanley Khaldo area of Nyoma sub-division in the Leh district.

Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) launched a plan for the implementation of 23 GW of ultra-mega solar projects in the Leh and Ladakh regions of Jammu & Kashmir, the country’s largest capacity so far. Phase-I of the project would entail setting up 2,500 MW Solar PV Capacity in Kargil region and 5,000 MW in Leh district. This will be India’s largest tender so far in terms of the capacity envisaged.

Image credit: PowerGrid via Twitter

Ankita Rajeshwari Ankita is an editor at MercomIndia.com where she writes and edits clean energy news stories and features. With years of experience in the news business, Ankita has a nose for news and an eye for detail. Prior to Mercom, Ankita was associated with The Times of India as a copy editor for the organization’s digital news desk. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Delhi University and a Postgraduate Diploma in journalism. More articles from Ankita Rajeshwari.