CHITRAL/ MINGORA/ LOWER DIR:
Without electricity for hours daily, the residents of Kabal tehsil remain unsure whom to blame – Pesco officials or public representatives or were both responsible for the darkness in their lives.
Elders of Kabal, Kanju and Sirsenai villages said they were being forced to endure more than 18 hours of power outages.
Javed Iqbal, a professor from Kanju, told The Express Tribune there has been no power in Kanju Chowk for four days. While some blame the area’s elected representative Murad Saeed for ignoring them, others criticise security forces for their brutal treatment of locals who protest these outages.
Bakht Pur, an official of Rahimabad Grid Station, said nobody in the switch room can suspend power supply on their own, adding orders come directly from higher authorities. He said the quota allotted for a district like Swat is just 11 megawatts. “It’s true that people here pay bills and the recovery is almost 98%, but we cannot change the system. Orders are orders” he added.
To the streets
Over in Bedarra village of Matta tehsil, more than a hundred people hit the road and tried to protest. When they went to the Wapda sub divisional office in Khwazakhela, the demonstrators were told the 18 hours without power was due to non-recovery. Later, protesters led by local elder Jehangir Khan, went to Khwazakhela Assistant Commissioner Syed Ghulam’s office. He assured them their problems would be resolved if they handed over people involved in electricity theft. Consequently, the villagers handed over the owner of an ice factory who was allegedly stealing power.
In Khariri village, locals took to the streets and chanted slogans against Wapda officials.
Lower Dir to Chitral
People of Rabat union council held a demonstration against the prolonged power outages.
Rabbat Bazaar was completely closed for business and the road from Lower Dir to Chitral remained was also blocked by the protesters. This caused hours of massive traffic jams on the route.
Timergara Assistant Commissioner Shah Jamil Khan and SHO Younas Khan reached the site and negotiated with the protestors who later dispersed peacefully.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chitral councillor-elects on Friday handed the provincial government a five-day ultimatum to curb load-shedding and reinitiate projects like the Chitral Bypass and Chitral NTS centre.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2015.