The powerless: In G-B, the light that just does not come

To further add to the woes of the locals, there is a complete blackout every other day.

Express February 05, 2011

GILGIT: Frequent power outages continue to disrupt routine life in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

Instead of getting better, the situation has worsened over the past two months, locals say. “In December and January when the days were comparatively shorter, power used to come back by 5pm, but now when evening falls at 6pm, you have to wait another hour before the lights turn on,” said Shah Alam, a resident of Gilgit.

To further add to the woes of the locals, there is a complete blackout every other day.

Students and those dependent on electricity for their work are virtually handicapped, as running a generator is beyond the financial means of most of them.

“I’m sick and tired of this load shedding as I cannot complete and file my stories on time,” said Qasim Khan, a Gilgit-based journalist. “I have written on this issue time and again but to no avail,” he said.

According to an official, water shortage is one of the main causes. “How can we ensure uninterrupted power supply to consumers if the water is frozen?” said an official in the power department.

Residents however insist deep-rooted corruption in the department is responsible for the deteriorating conditions in G-B, an area rich in water.

“It has been 63 years since independence but no improvement has ever taken place, especially in the power department,” said Imtiaz Khan, a businessman. He added that nobody ever tried to utilise the large water reservoirs in G-B.

G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah recently suspended some senior officials of the Public Works Department, an umbrella organisation that overlooks power supply, among other departments. There were allegations of corruption against these officials.  Shah ordered an inquiry but it yielded no proof, as most of the records lying in offices had already been burnt down by ‘unknown miscreants’.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th,  2011.


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