NOWSHERA/ DERA ISMAIL KHAN/ PESHAWAR/ BANNU: Hundreds of people took to the streets of Bannu on Monday in protest over prolonged power cuts, with some claiming the blackouts were averaging between 20 and 21 hours.
Protesters attacked the local Pesco office and torched four vehicles and five motorcycles along with office equipment including computers. Some also fired at three power transformers and later set them alight. A contingent of police arrived at the spot soon after and tried to control the unruly mob.
City Circle DSP Sanaullah told The Express Tribune it was difficult for 50 police officials to control such a large number of protesters. He said they fired teargas and baton charged the protesters to restrict them from attacking the government installation, but were unable to do so. Four protesters were injured in the incident, while Pesco officials escaped through the backdoor.
The violent demonstrations in Bannu prompted Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) chief Brigadier (retired) Tariq Sadozai to convene an ‘emergency’ news conference.
Addressing journalists at the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) House Peshawar, Sadozai termed the protests “a reaction to removing illegal power connections.”
“No pressure regarding power theft would be tolerated and removing illegal connections will continue,” stressed the Pesco chief. He added protestors were leveling false allegations against the power company.
Sadozai explained illegal connections cause the feeders to trip due to excessive load and people mistake this for load-shedding. “Pesco has started the bifurcation of power feeders to reduce the load on them and to ensure a smoother supply,” he said.
“Rs23 billion is needed to improve the power distribution system and both the federal and the K-P governments have agreed to help,” said the Pesco chief, adding the new provincial government will designate three police stations to deal with the menace of power theft.
Sadozai, however, was caught off guard to a question over his claims of power theft worth billions of rupees when electricity is available only for two to three hours a day in the city’s suburbs.
Meanwhile, Superintendant Engineer Bannu Circle Shafiq Khan and Executive Engineer Sadiq Dawar raided different areas with their teams and removed illegal connections.
In DI Khan, demonstrators blocked the intersection at Chugallah Gate by burning tyres and chanted slogans against the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), the district and provincial governments. They said power had been cut off from 5am till 2pm due to a fault in the main cable of the grid station in DI Khan.
In Nowshera, residents along with supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) blocked the Nowshera-Mardan Road for more than six hours in Rashakai area.
Local JI leaders Inayatur Rahman, Muhammad Khan, Ayub Khan and Misbah along with other party activists blocked traffic at around 8:30am and chanted slogans against Pesco officials, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ