PESHAWAR: Farmers of Kheshgi have decided to seek the Peshawar High Court’s help against the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) against what they allege is an illegal shift of the 40MW power transformer to Kohat.
Faced with acute water shortage to irrigate their lands following the relocation of the power transformer that was installed for Kheshgi water lift scheme, farmers of the area have formed the Kheshgi Action Committee and will file a writ petition against Pesco. The farmers of the area have raised Rs0.2 million to fight for their rights in court.
On June 4, around 8,000 of Kheshgi farmers blocked the Grand Trunk Road for three hours at Shobra Chowk, Nowshera, while protesting the move of the transformer. Now, the 22-member KAC will chalk out a plan against Pesco’s move which they say has deprived them of water to irrigate 26,000 acres of land.
“The issue began on May 21 when Pesco officials took away the transformer from the area,” Dilnawaz Khan, who owns of 15 acres of land, told The Express Tribune. “Two days before that, Pesco officials had told us water supply was being stopped temporarily to repair the transformer.”
Fakhr-e-Alam, a landlord, said that Pesco shifted the power transformer to Kohat where it was installed and inaugurated on May 31 by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar and MPA Pir Dilawar Shah.
Pesco Spokesperson Shaukat Afzal admitted that a 40MW transformer had been shifted to Kohat from Kheshgi but rubbished claims that the farmers had been deprived of water. “A fire broke out at the Kohat grid station, damaging a 40 MW transformer. Thus, the transformer from Nowshera was shifted and installed there. However, a power transformer of 5MW was shifted from Mardan and installed at the Nowshera Grid Station and is sufficient for the scheme,” he said.
For the last three weeks, KAC member Shaheran Khan, who owns 25 acres of land, said that he has had no water to irrigate his area through the scheme. “My standing crop of maize has been badly affected due to water shortage,” he said.
Khan explained that when it was his turn to water his fields, the transformer tripped for almost six hours, leaving his land un-irrigated for the past three weeks.
Along with Shaheran, other prominent members of KAC include Muariff Gul, Haji Nabiur Rahman, Noorul Amin and Saifullah Khan. The KAC says that the 5MW power transformer, installed after much complaints and protests, was in no way a substitute to the 40 MW transformer, as the smaller transformer trips frequently, making it of no use for them.
“We have been cheated by Pesco and we will file a writ petition against them,” said Saifullah Khan. “We depend solely on agricultural production, in the shape of vegetables, fruits, wheat and maize. To deprive us of irrigation water is to push us to hunger,” he said.