While a majority of areas in Swat have been provided natural gas connections, a lone village in their midst continues to be sidelined from the facility.
Residents of Takhtabun village, which is located around 5 kilometres from Mingora, say they have been requesting the authorities concerned for years to provide gas connection to the locality, but no practical steps have been taken so far. They said they even brought the issue up with the prime minister, who issued directives to Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) on June 6, 2008, to install gas connections in the village, but yet to no avail.
The village, with a population of just over 6,000, has 11 established marble, cosmetics, shoe and rubber and plastic goods factories, and is known as a mini-industrial hub. It also has an agriculture research centre.
However, a number of factories in the village have been shut down due to unavailability of gas, which has increased unemployment, said Fiza Karam, a resident. “If this continues, soon our young generation will be involved in negative activities,” he claimed.
A day labourer, Kazim Bacha, said without gas connection, it is difficult to earn a living while relying on liquid-petroleum gas (LPG) as it is expensive or on dry wood as it is not readily available. “The government has inflicted these miseries upon us,” said Bacha, “it has set new records of brutality on the people.” He said he earns only Rs300 a day on average which is insufficient to meet even the most basic needs of a family of eight given such high level of inflation.
Mehronesh, a retired local banker, said it is “strange” that all surrounding villages have been provided gas connections except Takhtabun. He urged the government to provide gas to the village immediately, “because being citizens of this country it is our right”.
When contacted, Member Provincial Assembly Sher Shah Khan said that Rs5 million have been approved to install gas connections in Takhtabun village. However, he said the facility will only be provided once the ban on new gas connections is lifted.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.