Urban zones in Sialkot have been facing over 16 hours of load shedding of electricity, while several rural areas have experienced over 20 hours of power cuts during the past week.
A majority of localities have been facing a severe shortage of water as a result of the power crisis and social circles and civil society have strongly criticised the performance of tehsil municipal administration (TMA) and the Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco).
A large number of locals in Sialkot protested against the government and power officials. “It is Ramazan and yet we have no electricity. It has been nearly two days without power. We only have a few hours to cook our food,” said protestor Arif Khawar Butt. Butt said that the government had promised the power situation would be improved during the holy month but it had only gotten worse. “We were expecting the number of hours without electricity to be reduced, instead we only have three or four hours of electricity now,” he added.
Former district councillor of the Habib Pura union council (UC) Nadeem Aslam said that the government and Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) officials had been playing with the lives of hundreds of people. “Wapda is responsible for the miseries of hundreds and the people want the government to be answerable for their crimes.
We need a bloody revolution to rid the people of these politicians,” he added.
Local lawyer Syed Naveedul Haq said that citizens were forced to observe seher and iftar in the dark. “We are lucky, I suppose, that at present there is no gas load shedding or we would also go hungry. We already have no water or power,” he added. “These politicians and officials should show some moral fibre and quit after their failure to follow through on their promises. They promised us electricity and they have failed to deliver, yet they are still here,” he added.
(Read: Back to dark ages: End of loadshedding by 2018 a joke, say people)
Shopkeepers Tippu, Atiq and Naeem Guddu said that electricity was already a huge problem but now the water shortage had also begun to hit them hard. “We have had to close our shops for the past two days because there was no power,” Atiq said. They said that most of the localities in the city had become a disaster zone and they were facing severe problems in acquiring even the most basic commodities. “There is no water for cooking, washing or bathing. To top it all off we barely have three to four hours of power,” Guddu said.
They stated that open announcements were made through mosques that no water was available. We have demanded immediate action against the concerned officials of the Sialkot TMA for their failure in maintaining uninterrupted water supply to citizens but nothing has happened. “We have lodged dozens of complaints but there isn’t much we can do. We have checked the pipes for leakages but the problem is water pressure and we cannot control that,” said TMA official Abbas.
Local Wapda officials refused to comment on the situation, however Ashraf Bajwa, an official of TMA’s Water Supply Department said that due to sudden fluctuations in power supply a number of water turbines had been destroyed. “We are working to repair the turbines as soon as possible. The people need to be patient,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.