PESHAWAR: In yet another heated assembly session, the provincial government on Friday alleged the centre is accusing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for being the main source of the ongoing power woes in the country.
Finance Minister Sirajul Haq said Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali has put the entire blame of the power crisis on K-P by accusing them of not paying electricity dues and stealing power.
He said the record obtained from the 10 power distributing companies in the country shows Punjab and Sindh are the leading provinces in power theft, while K-P falls way behind. In Punjab, 6 billion unit losses occur every year. The figure is even higher in Sindh- 6.5 billion, Haq said at the assembly floor, adding K-P has unit losses of 3.7 billion.
“He (Ali) is defaming K-P and should get his facts right,” claimed Haq. He added K-P produces 2,200 megawatt (MW) of electricity but receives only 1,200, which leads to load-shedding for up to 18 hours.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Yousuf Ayub also denied the accusations saying instead of being appreciated for building dams that cater to the power needs of the whole country, people of the province are being blamed for the electricity problem. “Due to the construction of Tarbela Dam, more than 85 villages had to be evacuated,” Ayub added.
Information Minister Shah Farman said the state minister visited Peshawar a few days ago to hold meetings with Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) officials but did not get in touch with the provincial government’s representatives.
“Their (federal government’s) issue is that there are only PTI lawmakers from Peshawar district. This is why the centre is after us,” said the visibly angry information minister.
Taking charge, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said Wapda acts like a mafia which neither the province nor the centre can control. “There is no power theft where Wapda is not involved. They (Wapda) balance the figures by cutting power supply from the main distribution points,” said the CM, adding he has asked the police to arrest anyone involved in such acts.
The row on the assembly floor came two days after Minister of State Sher Ali’s press briefing at Wapda House.
Talking to journalists on Wednesday, Ali said: “In the 22 power feeders in the surrounding areas of Peshawar, Pesco faces 90% power theft.”
Ali then directed Pesco to conduct an operation against power theft regardless of any pressure. “If a grid station or a power transformer is burnt during an operation against electricity theft, it will not be replaced until the K-P government pays for it,” he said, adding they have yet to recover Rs23 billion from Peshawar’s suburbs.
On the issue of the promotion of Mansehra District Police Officer Ghafoor Afridi to DIG of DI Khan, Khattak said due to the dearth of officers in the district, they have promoted the DPO. He then asked the people of Hazara to give the officer a chance to prove his worth.
Meanwhile, protests continued in the district for the fourth consecutive day against the transfer orders.
Women MPAs walk out
On a call attention notice, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Sobia Khan alleged development funds have only been given to male MPAs, which she said was clearly discriminatory.
Joining her call, female MPAs from both opposition and treasury benches walked out of the assembly claiming they were not being given equal importance. The women returned after Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan assured their demands would not be ignored.
LG, Accountability bills
The K-P Accountability Commission Bill 2013 and K-P Local Government Act 2013, which were part of the assembly’s agenda, were also presented.
After reaching a consensus, the treasury and opposition benches referred the bills to select committees for further consideration. Members of the committee formed for the local government bill include MPAs Yousuf Ayub, Aneesa Zeb Tahirkheli, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Lutfur Rahman, Muhammad Ali and Sardar Hussain Babak. Ayub, Tahirkheli, Babak and Rahman are also part of the committee established to discuss the accountability commission bill. Other members include Shahram Tarakai and Sirajul Haq.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2013.
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