A day after Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif accused the federal government of deliberate power cuts in the province, PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif has directed the party to support street protests.
The surge in prolonged loadshedding has disrupted life in many cities as load shedding has crossed 12 hours in Southern Punjab, Express 24/7 reported Monday.
The situation in rural areas is getting worse. Sukkur, Shikarpur, Ghotki, Jacobabad, Nowshera Feroz and other districts in interior Sindh experienced unannounced load shedding.
Urban areas of Sindh are facing eight to ten hours of outages and rural areas twelve to fourteen.
Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) underwent a shortage of 700 megawatts of power, taking the loadshedding duration to nine hours, while Balochistan faced outages for 16 hours.
Peshawar witnessed 18 hours of power outages on contrary to the four-hour load shedding schedule provided to the city.
Protests staged against load shedding
Unannounced loadshedding for long durations has forced people to come out on the streets in several cities of Punjab.
Angry demonstrators ransacked a Gujranwala Electric Power Company (GEPCO) office, and torched two cars, a pickup van and more than 25 motorbikes.
The police tried to stop the demonstrators, but the mob retaliated and attacked a police checkpoint the Aalam chowk area of the city.
Police used teargas to disperse stone-throwing protestors after a clash in the same area. Four police constables were also injured during the protests in Gujranwala.
Trade organisations were on strike and angry protestors forced shops and businesses on GT Road to shut down.
Cases were registered against more than 1,000 protestors and dozens were arrested in Lahore on account of massive protests against power outages in the city.
Four hundred and fifty protestors were charged while 53 were arrested by the Baghbanpura police.
Chuhng police station has registered cases against 1,000 protestors and arrested 25 people.
The charges also include those under the anti-terrorism act.
The protests were held at the Mahmood Booti area on Ring Road, Chuhng and near Data Darbar.
Protests were also staged in other cities.
A shutterdown strike by the business and trade association of Faisalabad is underway as a part of the protest, whereas, students staged a sit-in protest for three hours in Gujrat.
Protesters involved in spreading violence sent to jail
More than 100 people allegedly involved in violence during the protest against loadshedding in Lahore were sent to jail on Monday.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Hashmat Kamal told Express News that a case has been registered against the people who set two police vans on fire on Sunday.
Meanwhile, another case was registered against those involved in setting a bus on fire.
The arrested people also include the protesters who attacked a police station in Chuhng.
PEPCO circular debt increases
A report sent to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani revealed that the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) is facing a loss of around Rs42.3 million every hour due to electricity theft and non-payment of dues.
According to sources, Pepco’s circular debt is increasing by Rs30.5 billion every month and has reached a total amount of Rs447 billion.
Out of the said amount, Rs110 billion have to be paid to Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), which provides over 6,000 megawatts of electricity at the rate of Rs1.1 per unit.
Power supply companies in Azad Kashmir, Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Karachi owe Rs225 billion to Pepco.
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