Shehri Awami Mahaz, an alliance of labour, human rights and social rights organisations of Karachi, has called for cancelling the privatisation of K-Electric (KE), previously known as Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC).
National Trade Union Federation’s (NTUF) Nasir Mansoor, in a press conference on Saturday, accused former president Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of privatising KESC under a fraudulent deal.
He pointed out that when the company was being privatised, the authorities said the state was sustaining an undue burden of subsidies due to the company. However, he added, despite being privatised, the company was being offered subsidies of Rs41 billion annually, but people were suffering in the wait for an uninterrupted power supply.
"The government, National Accountability Bureau and National Electric Power Regulatory Authority have given KE a free hand for breaking laws because its owner is close to the current ruling party," claimed Workers Rights Movement’s Gul Rahman.He added that KE’s power could be gauged from the fact that it owed billions but no institution in the country had the power to recover the money from it.
Home Based Women Workers Federation general secretary Zehra Khan claimed that over 100 illegal hydrants in the city were earning Rs90 billion each year by selling the people's share of water back to them. "At the moment, the water tanker mafia is making more money than the drug mafia."
She added that the 'tanker mafia' was also endangering the urban environment and health by pumping out 150MGD of water daily.
The activists demanded to cancel KE's privatization or hand it over to the democratic control of the citizens, withdraw the electricity tariff hike and stop over-billing. They also called for the city's illegal hydrants to be shut down with immediate effect and the improvement of Karachi's water supply infrastructure.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2020.
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