The Sindh High Court on Wednesday stopped Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) from disconnecting electricity supply to the water-pumping stations, which fall in the category of ‘strategic installations.’
The judge disposed of the application filed by Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB). But it also observed in its order that instead of resorting to suspension of power, the KESC should find other means, such as a civil suit, for recovering its pending dues from the board.
Qazi Majid Ali, who represented the Sindh government, referred to the ‘implementation agreement’ and agreed with the contentions put forward by KWSB’s counsel, Abrar Hussain Advocate. Ali also said that the people should not be punished for the dispute between two public utility organisations.
The counsel for KESC, Barrister Abid Zuberi, however, opposed the application and said that the applicant was not a party or signatory to the contract between federal government and the KESC and therefore, cannot claim benefit of the same.
Zuberi said that KESC was a commercial organisation and so was KWSB since supplying water to consumers was also a commercial activity which ultimately rendered profits. Hence, if the board failed to pay its electricity bills, the KESC had the right to disconnect electricity supply to KWSB’s facilities and installations. Zuberi also reminded the court of an earlier order of the SHC which had told the board to submit the bill to its Nazir.
But the board did not submit its bills citing the implementation agreement as reason. According to the agreement, KESC could not cut the power to strategic installations of the federal government. Then the KWSB asked the SHC to intervene and stop KESC from disconnecting electricity to its installations.
The board’s counsel argued that according to the implementation agreement, federal government sold the power company at a cheaper price on the condition that electricity supply to strategic installations will never be disconnected at any point of time.
The water board also informed the court that KESC comes up with new amount to be paid in dues every time and threatens to cut power. Of late, it has begun to cut the electricity supply to Dhabeji pumping station which pumps millions of gallons of water to Karachi every day.
Abid Hussain, KWSB’s lawyer, said that the frequent closure of Dhabeji may end in a disaster since the water-rising main could burst any time, depriving millions of people in the city of water supply for days. This could lead to water riots and damage KWSB’s supply lines. The judgment was reserved a few days back for today.
KESC office attacked
Meanwhile, an electricity-deprived mob attacked the KESC office in Bahadurabad on Wednesday, damaging vehicles and office equipment. According to KESC, around 150 to 200 people went into the VIBC Bahadurabad office near 4 pm and damaged motorcycles and computers and set the furniture on fire.
The mob attacked the office in retaliation to the lack of electricity in the area due to both load shedding and two burnt out PMTs in the Lines Area.
The Ferozeabad DSP, Murtaza Ghulam Malik, said that the police reached the site immediately and took an hour to disperse the mob.
“There were only slight damages in one room, no major ones,” said Malik. “The KESC has not registered an FIR as yet and no one was detained during the incident.”
According to Malik, the residents of the area did not have electricity for fourteen days because of the burnt PMTs.
“Two PMTs in the Lines Area burnt out due to illegal overload and both have heavy outstanding combined dues of 19 million rupees,” said the KESC spokesperson, Amin ur Rahman. He added that the PMTs are overloaded because of illegal connections.
KESC maintained that only 18 per cent of the customers using the PMTs pay their bills while the remaining 82 per cent are chronic defaulters.
Rahman said that the customers have failed to come to the table for negotiations despite measures taken by the KESC, as recently as this Sunday, to develop a payment plan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.
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