Scarcity of power and gas has rendered another winter harsh for two of the major towns of Swat District. In Saidu Sharif, hundreds of protesters took to the streets to draw attention to their woes on Friday.
They accused the federal and provincial governments for failing to provide basic facilities to the citizens. They burnt tyres and set up road blocks. “We are experiencing gas cuts for four days and it’s unfortunate that the authorities don’t have an explanation for the crisis,” said Dr Khalid Mahmood, who led the protest.
He said he filed a case against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) under the Consumer Act, in response to which the local court passed a verdict that no “artificial” loadshedding would be allowed in the district. “However, the SNGPL is observing loadshedding for over 20 hours, violating court orders,” he added.
As a result, the locals are exposed to a myriad of problems. “The loadshedding starts early in the morning and continues till late night, whereas elsewhere in the country, it lasts not more than 10 hours,” said Mohammad Ameen, former MPA.
Furthermore, the protesters blamed the SNGPL department for ‘colluding’ with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) dealers. “The department is conspiring with LPG dealers and suspending gas supply deliberately so that people buy LPG gas at higher rates,” Zahoor, an angry protester said.
Meanwhile, residents of Landaykas protested in front of the Swat Press club. They complained that their routine activities have come to a halt due to power and gas cuts up to 18 hours. Moreover, they set a 10-day deadline, threatening widespread protest if their demands were not entertained in the stipulated time.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2013.