Afghan refugees have accused the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) of contempt of court for disconnecting power supply to three refugee camps in Manshera District.
Addressing a news conference at the Mansehra Press Club on Friday, elders belonging to Khakhi, Bareri and Ichriyan tribes said they have been paying their electricity bills regularly and have no outstanding dues. Yet, they said that Pesco has disconnected their power supply for non-payment. As proof, they showed their recent paid electricity bills to media persons at the press club.
When contacted, Pesco authorities said the refugees were told that their electricity tariffs had been revised upward and the camp contractors had not paid the bills on the new rates. The authorities said the supply was eventually disconnected due to non-payment.
Haji Shakar Khan, an elder of the Khaki camp, said Pesco increased electricity rates of the low tariff slab from Rs5 to Rs8 per unit, and the high tariff slab from Rs14 to Rs18 per unit. As a result, he said their monthly bills per transformer increased from Rs200,000 to Rs1.4 million, “which was too much for us to pay”.
He said that he, along with other contractors, moved court against Pesco and secured a stay order against the disconnection order. He said that Pesco authorities committed contempt of court by disconnecting their power supply despite the stay order. Khan said that the contractors have once again moved court to seek action against Pesco.
According to Pesco officials, there were 18 power transformers of different capacities installed in the three camps, which house over 25,000 people. According to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s decision, Pesco has equalised the tariff of Afghan consumers based in camps with other Pakistani consumers. The officials said Afghan refugees were paying at a single rate of Rs5 to Rs8 per unit, which was causing loss to Pesco.
The officials further said that the outstanding amount against the camps runs in millions as the rates were revised in June this year and since then the refugees have not paid their dues on the new rates.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2012.