Residents of Shamozai, a locality in Swat’s Barikot tehsil, have threatened to remove 50,000 electricity metres installed in the area if their power woes are not immediately resolved. They said that after removing the electricity wires they will go to Islamabad and stage a sit-in outside the Supreme Court as their “last hope”.
The decision was made by a jirga of local villagers and elders after loadshedding in the area was increased from 18 hours a day to 22 hours. The members added that for the two hours that electricity is supplied, the voltage is so low that they cannot even charge the batteries of their mobile phones.
The jirga was attended by hundreds of locals from 15 of the 25 villages of Shamozai.
Zahoor, a resident of Khazana village, said he gets only 15 volts from the electricity connection at this house, adding it is “too little” to run any electrical appliance.
They jirga members said that they have repeatedly complained to, and even protested against, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the government for experiencing very low voltages and extended power outages in the area.
However, they said that despite assurances by the officials concerned, their power woes have only worsened. They alleged that their power supply is being “deliberately suspended” for 22 hours a day after they held demonstrations against the government and Wapda.
“Thousands of us gathered to protest against outages and low voltage in the area during the previous month. But despite assurances, Wapda increased our loadshedding hours,” said Tilawat Khan.
“Wapda deliberately increased loashedding in response to our protest,” Khan alleged. “Staging protests and demanding our rights is our constitutional right but it seems that this government and its institutions don’t understand this,” he said. “We are done begging before corrupt elected representatives because they choose not to solve or issues,” Khan added.
“The most ironic part of this all is that Wapda is issuing us very high bills every month even when we are not being provided electricity,” said Zor Talab, a resident of Gharia village. “By removing the electricity metres, at least we will get rid of the high utility bills,” Talab said.
He added that for the past two years people have been resorting to batteries to meet their power needs, while the more affluent use power generators.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.
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