More than 30,000 people of 15 villages in Tank district are facing a severe water shortage as their electricity was suspended by Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) three weeks ago.
“We were already facing a severe water shortage in Dabra but after the closure of the feeder for 13 consecutive days, the situation is out of control now,” said Roshan Zamir, a resident of Sheikh Sultan village. He added that the Pesco officials provided it for three hours with an announcement from the mosques for people to store water. “It took one hour for the water to reach the area through the pipes” he said. “Residents of the village fought over it with each other due to the low pressure of the flow. Everyone was trying to store as much water as they could,” Zamir told The Express Tribune.
Amir Hamza, a resident of Shiekh Ghara, said that for the last three weeks they had gone without electricity. “We were told by Pesco that we do not pay our bills which is why we cannot be supplied electricity in turn,” he said. “You can’t point out a single district to me in Pakistan where all the residents pay their bills. Then why are only we being targeted?” He explained that after the suspension of the power supply to the villages, they collected Rs300 each from 500 families and gave it to the Pesco officials but still they refused to turn it back on.
Ihsanullah Bhittani, a resident of Sheikh Uthar, said they were told by the Pesco officials that they were defaulters and that too in the billions of rupees. “If our ancestors didn’t pay their bills why should we pay for them?” he mused.
He alleged that in one month Pesco sends them bills of Rs1,000 while the next month it exceeds that amount. He added that some of the Pesco officials had told them to give them money and they would provide the supply but the villagers remained in the dark even after trying this option.
Tank Grid Station’s incharge, Musharraf Khan, said that the residents of Dabra were not being provided with electricity because 85% of the consumers in the villages haven’t paid their bills for the last 10 years. He said they consider themselves tribal and demand to be provided electricity without paying. He claimed that the electricity had not been suspended for three weeks running. It was because of a fault in the grid station that the supply had been disconnected for 10 days and it went back on for two days but was disconnected again for a week. After the grid station is repaired they will follow the load shedding schedule as handed down to them by the Peshawar Dispatch Cell.
Wapda Superintendent Fahim Khan refused to comment on the three-week long power outage.
However, Wapda Tank chief engineer Aslam Khan Gandapur said that many villagers in Ghundai, Urdu Kallay, Dabra, Sheikh Sultan, Dera Pattal, Sheikh Uthar, Sheikh Gara and in the Frontier Region Jandola have refused to pay a single rupee. “Most of the houses have air coolers, fans and refrigerators which use around 300 to 400 units per month which costs Rs2,000 to Rs3,000,” he said.
“These villagers have consumed electricity of worth Rs2.8 billion,” the chief engineer said. “And all this loss was tolerated by Pesco and the government but the residents have still vowed not to pay the bills.” He added that a decision should taken to cut off the power supply to these areas permanently unless they don’t pay.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2012.