GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Hotel Association [G-BHA] has asked the Aga Khan Development Network [AKDN] to come to the ‘rescue’ of the hotel industry that is on the brink of collapsing in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) due to unprecedented load shedding.
From the middle of October onwards, the region has been hit by severe load shedding and hotels are one of many sectors suffering due to the power outages. “The long hours of load shedding have ruined the hotel Industry in G-B and we don’t expect any improvements in the near future,” Raja Nasir, the president of G-BHA said during a press conference. Major (R) Aman, General Secretary G-BHA, Dr Mamoon and others were present at the press conference.
At present, around 15 hours of load shedding is takes place each day in G-B, despite the construction of mega power projects in the region.
Recently, the power department disconnected connections of more than three dozen hotels in Gilgit after they failed to pay their outstanding dues to the Power department. It is still a mystery why such long hours of load shedding are being experienced even after that.
“The Aga Khan has carried out a number of projects in the health and education sectors across G-B for the improvement of these sectors and we appeal to them to invest in the power sector too,” said Maj Aman, general secretary of G-BHA.
Officials of the G-BHA have said that they are willing to pay charges to the AKDN if they were ready to supply power to the region, adding that this task could only be carried out by the Aga Khan, who is improved the infrastructure of the region.
Under the umbrella of AKDN, a number of community development initiatives since the early 80’s have been launched, enabling the people of the region to use their own resources effectively.
The officials also said that they believed that if the Aga Khan invested in the power sector, a ‘revolution in the sector will occur’ as the AKDN have established systems being run and supervised by professionals with commitment and sincerity.
Raja Nasir, a resident of the area, said that lack of facilities in G-B is one of the reasons why tourism in G-B as declined over the years.
“When tourists came to the region it would add to our income and we could make ends meet, but now with the increase in prices and the decrease in tourism, were struggling,” Shamim Ara, a local shopkeeper said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2010.