Unpaid bills: Power supply cut to Afghan refugee camps

Published: October 21, 2012

A new formula introduced by PESCO has shot up electricity rates, making it unaffordable for refugees. DESIGN: TARIQ SHAH GILANI

PESHAWAR: 

Power supply to five Afghan refugee camps in the Shamshatu area has been disconnected for the past month, resulting in acute water shortages for the residents.

Refugees living in the Zanday, Mero Kachoray, Baghwanan, Shamshatu and Muvli Khalis camps said that they were unable to pay electricity bills due to inflated rates. A new formula introduced by the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) has led to the price hike, refugees claimed.

Pesco spokesperson Shaukat Afzal said that power was disconnected because of unpaid bills. The power tariff for Afghan refugees is being sorted out with the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and a plan will be devised soon, he added.

Alam Gul, a representative of the Shamshatu camp, told The Express Tribune that despite pledges by the authorities, power had not been restored to the camps and tube wells in the areas.

“The electricity bills for tube wells have been paid, but the supply remains disconnected,” Gul said.

Refugees protested outside the Pesco office and demanded that the old fee structure, in practice for 25 years, be restored. But their proposals were rejected.

Mir Ghawasudin, a member of the Baghwanan camp, said that 17,000 families live in the affected camps. He added that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the provincial government was responsible for addressing their problems.

All refugees living in camps have been registered by the Government of Pakistan, said Qari Muhammad Shah at the Mulvi Khalis camp.

“We have no water for drinking or ablution and children are suffering from various diseases. The refugees have to bring water from far away areas,” said Muhammad Hashim, a leader of the Mero Kachoray camp. Livestock is also at risk.

One of the elders in the Shahshatu camp criticised the Afghan embassy and representatives in Pakistan for not taking any action.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2012. 

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