KARACHI: Lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly decried the increase in electricity tariffs and taxes as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) moved a resolution calling upon the federal government to nationalise the K-Electric and hand it over to the Sindh government.
The assembly spent the entire session on Tuesday debating this private resolution, which was moved by Opposition Leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan. “I request the Sindh government to direct the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) not to increase any type of electric tariff for consumers in Karachi by K-Electric,” he said, adding that unannounced load-shedding still continues and many areas remain without power for hours in the city. “K-Electric has failed to enhance its power production and it rubs salt in the wounds of the citizens,” he remarked.
The opposition leader was of the view that Nepra has reduced the tariff in all other cities but the rates remain unchanged in Karachi. “Over-billing is the major problem,” he said. “The authority concerned should take notice of it otherwise citizens will have no other option but to besiege the power utility offices.”
Diverting the attention of the house towards huge amount being earned from Karachi, he said, “Despite earning billions of rupees, the power utility company has only installed 25 megawatt (MW) units in Karachi,” he said, adding that the company has now been handed over to Chinese company without any consultation of the major stakeholders.
“They are sending fake bills to consumers, asking them to pay the bill first and then lodge complain about the bill. This is injustice,” he said, adding that the assembly has already adopted three resolutions on this issue but no tangible result has come out.
During the debate, members informed the assembly that the K-Electric has refused to give new connections to the consumers.
Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Mumtaz Jakhrani endorsed the resolution and said that the same issue persists in other districts of Sindh where power utility companies that work under the supervision of the federal government have made life miserable. “There is 20 hours of load-shedding in Jacobabad and Kashmore but exorbitant bills are sent by power companies,” he said.
Social Welfare Minister Shamim Mumtaz diverted the house’s attention toward PPP’s stiff resistance against the then privatisation of KESC. “The federal government is now hatching conspiracies against the Sindh government through hours-long load-shedding,” she said.
MQM’s Syed Sardar Ahmed said that the federal government has totally neglected Sindh over this issue and the poor cannot afford to pay heavy utility bills. “Not only electricity but there is severe water crisis in the city as well, which has compounded our miseries,” he said. “Looking at the growing complaints against K-Electric, I suggest the Sindh government to make a law so that the power utility can be nationalised and handed over to the Sindh government.” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Khurrum Sher Zaman also referred to dozens of complaints in his constituency. “Every household gets around Rs18,000 to Rs20,000 in monthly bills,” he said.
The controversial quota system
During the session, PTI MPA Zaman moved an adjournment motion regarding the share of Karachi residents in the recruitment for Sindh government jobs. However, PPP minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro opposed it on ‘technical grounds’. “The adjournment motion has been moved against the rules,” he claimed. “Jobs are given under urban and rural quota, which is properly implemented.” The speaker termed the adjournment out of order.
‘Rename Altaf Hussain University in Hyderabad’
Meanwhile, Sindh Assembly witnessed pandemonium after PTI MPA Zaman moved a private resolution, calling for renaming Altaf Hussain University at Hyderabad as ‘Moulana Abdul Sattar Edhi University’.
“Altaf Hussain has used derogatory language against Pakistan and this assembly has also passed a resolution against him, so I request you rename the university after Edhi sahib,” he said.
MQM MPA Dr Zafar Kamali stood up to oppose the resolution, after which other lawmakers of the party also criticised Zaman. Objectionable language was used against each other. Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza ordered to expunge the words and adjourned the session without taking up the resolution. Later, the session was adjourned till today (Wednesday).
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2016.
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