DERA GHAZI KHAN:
Traders affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) launched a protest rally against power load shedding on Wednesday.
According to police officials, the rally was initiated at Old Ghala Mandi and terminated at main Traffic Chowk. Protestors burnt tyres as a mark of their protest and many were seen carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda). “All this could have been avoided but for the federal governments poor policies. The government hasn’t been able to plan for load shedding for the past three years and now the people are rising up,” said protester Mubasshar.
Protestors strongly criticised Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) executive engineer Abbas Lashari for not curbing unscheduled power cuts in the district. “There are some localities that are experiencing 23 hours of power cuts. How can people live like this? There is no water and no amenities. Someone needs to pay and for once it should be the government,” said protester Akhtar Qayyum.
The protesters said that some of the power cuts in Dera Ghazi Khan were being done so that Mepco officials could recover the deficit on their line losses. “Many times it is just power theft,” they said.
“Wapda and Mepco officials accuse the people of being power thieves, when they are the biggest power thieves in Pakistan,” a protester Shahnaz said.
Protestors also accused former Mepco engineers for failing to run their department efficiently and traders said that their protests against such individuals would continue. They maintained that inflated utility bills against the five hour provision of electricity issued by Mepco clearly demonstrated the corruption of Mepco authorities.
The protesters rallied at several locations in the district and some protesters also set fire to a Mepco office room. One Mepco official was forced to jump out of his window to save his life but no one was seriously injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2011.
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