Gilgit plunges into darkness

Long hours of power outages have crippled civic and commercial life in Gilgit.

Shabbir Mir October 27, 2010

GILGIT: The people of Gilgit have been let down by the new provincial government of Mehdi Shah after economic and domestic life in the area has been crippled as a result of long hours of power outages.

Usmania Muhalla in the Kashrote area is one of the worst hit areas where blackouts last for more than 60 hours bringing the daily lives of people to a standstill. “When we ask officials why these power outages are so long we are give unsatisfactory answers,” a housewife told The Express Tribune.

Locals believe that the sole reason behind these long unannounced power failures is corruption. “Can anybody tell me why the situation has deteriorated so much?” Imran Ali, a tailor in the region asked. “The expectations that we had from the Mehdi Shah government have not been met.” “No one is questioning the Public Works Department (PWD) officials,” he said.

The suo motu notice taken by the Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate court recently failed to put the PWD in order. “Out of 18 mega watts, only 6 mega watts of electricity is generated at this time in the biggest Naltar Hydel Power Project due to a decrease in the water level,” a PWD official said. He said that due to the non-availability of funds, the damages caused by the recent floods have not been repaired. “An amount of Rs15 million is required to repair the damages in the hydel power project in GB,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials at the Kashrote power station claim that because of an overload at least two transformers have short circuited. “The rest of the transformers cannot handle the load,” an official at the power station in Kashrote said.

Officials at the power station said that they delay in repairing the transformers were because they were unable to get hold of the damaged parts. The situation in other parts of Gilgit isn’t rosy either. The Basin, Amphery, Khomer, Jutial and Nagral areas have also been hit by breakdown making it difficult for locals to continue with their daily lives.

During Pervez Musharaff’s regime an 18 mega watt Naltar Hydel Power Project was constructed in 2008 costing Rs1.5 billion but failed to meet the power demands of the region. Similarly, the hydel power projects at Guru Jaglot and Kargah were also unable to produce enough power.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2010.


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