DERA GHAZI KHAN:
Scores of stick-wielding women blocked Quetta Road on Thursday in protest against Sui Northern Gas Pipeline over gas load shedding and overbilling.
The women and their children, mostly residents of Bihar Colony, gathered at the road and blocked it for traffic by staging a sit-in. They burnt utility bills and chanted slogans against the government and the SNGPL. Traffic on Quetta Road was suspended for several hours as hundreds of vehicles were held up during the protest.
Talking to newsmen, Fareeda Bibi, one of the protesters, said “I don’t understand why I have gotten a Rs7,000 gas bill when we have been using firewood because of consistent gas load shedding last month.”
She said they had organised several protests against the SNGPL after no one had responded to hundreds of complaints against gas load shedding.
“At every protest, they sent someone who promised us that the problem was only temporary and would be resolved soon,” she said.
“We suffered harsh winters waiting for the SNGPL to fulfil their promise but in vain,” she said. Shaheena Arshad, another protester, “The SNGPL has issued us bills running into thousands of rupees this month.”
“When I think of the time when my children were bathing in freezing water or when we didn’t have any gas to cook food, I don’t understand by what right does the SNGPL want this money?” she said.
She said hundreds of women from Bihar Colony had been enraged when they saw the bill for January. “Temperatures dipped below zero degrees Celsius in January and using gas for heating had not been an option for us. So why must we pay for gas we never used?”
She urged the prime minister to take notice of the situation. “People living in houses built on several acres will never understand the problems of the common man,” she said. The women appealed to Dera Ghazi Khan commissioner to ask the SNGPL to cancel their bills for January. The women dispersed after a police team promised them that the matter would be taken up by senior officials and addressed soon. The women threatened to return again if their demands were not heard.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2015.
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