CHITRAL/ PESHAWAR/ SHANGLA/ CHARSADDA/ LOWER DIR:
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak arrived at the provincial legislature on Monday all hot and bothered, as he fired a broadside at Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) for prolonged power outages in the province. Khattak’s opening salvo, after the assembly passed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Finance Bill 2015, included a personal takedown.
The CM promised to “burn the Pesco chief alive, the way he let people burn in the heat”. The province, like the rest of the country, has been in the grips of a deadly summer, Ramazan and power outages.
Calling the Pesco chief executive what is colloquially used for an incompetent person, the CM said, “He is so inept he cannot even get K-P its due share from the national grid.” Khattak said, “I receive reports on a daily basis suggesting we receive 400 to 500 megawatts less than our decided share.”
He added, “The Pesco chief does not demand the entire share as he cannot ensure the recovery of electricity dues.” According to the CM, “The management is not asking [for the rest of the power allocation] because it would blow the lid off Pesco’s irregularities which has left the province burning.”
Khattak gave the company CEO a five-day ultimatum to obtain the megawatts allocated for K-P. “If the company fails to do so, with the opposition’s support we will march to the Pesco office and question them.” He added the federal ministry for water and power has promised a 13.5% share in daily production for K-P.
Talking about Imran Khan’s promises of constructing small dams, Khattak claimed the government is working on the projects that will start producing 35 megawatts of electricity by the end of next year. “No one can accuse us of corruption or mismanagement.”
Demonstrations against power outages continued across the province for the fourth consecutive day.
Charsadda’s Shabqadar tehsil is on the grid for a mere four hours a day, according to locals. PTI MPA Mohammad Arif along with party office-bearers and supporters marched to the Pesco office in Peshawar on Monday. Pesco operations director Nadeem Anwar held a meeting with the protesters.
At the protest, Arif said the province produces in excess of its requirement. “We are deprived of what is our own,” he said, adding the Centre is also delaying net hydel profit payments.
On Friday, protesters had barged into a grid station in Shabqadar, vandalising machinery which caused a prolonged breakdown that lasted until Sunday.
The week’s second protest in Chitral district was led by lawyers at PIA Chowk on Monday.
Speakers at the demonstration said the Chitral DC had assured action but none was taken. They threatened to shut down the Water and Power Development Authority office in Chitral.
Similar protests were held in Lower Dir where locals blocked a number of routes, including the GT Road, and protested outages in areas like Sadbarg, Mayar, Samar Bagh, Qam Butt.
Residents of Takot, Shangla cut off the main electricity line on Monday.
Talking to The Express Tribune, police official Riaz said hundreds of protesters were led by newly-elected district council member Sher Ali Khan and tehsil council member Shoukat Ali khan. They said they registered several complaints against the culprit who cut the power line but so far could not take action against them.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.