PESHAWAR, Aug 7: Payment of utility bills of the internally displaced persons from tribal areas living in two Khyber Pakhtunkhwa camps has become a bone of contention among Civil Secretariat, Fata, the provincial government and the finance division.
Sources said the finance division, which was a federal entity, recently refused to give supplementary grant of Rs100 million to Civil Secretariat to pay electricity bills and meet other expenditure on account of IDPs living in Jalozai in Nowshera district and Togh Serai in Hangu district.
Officials said monthly electricity expenditure of the two IDP camps came to around Rs4.5 million.
According to them, previously, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had released grant to clear electricity dues of the two camps but lately, the provincial government had refused to clear bills.
Initially, the finance division had taken the stand that the province was awarded additional one per cent of the divisible pool to meet extra expenditure relating to cost of the ‘war on terror’ that included various expenditure.
The Jalozai camp, according to the finance division, is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and not in Fata and gets electricity from Peshawar Electric Supply Company’s grid station and therefore, power bills should be paid from additional resources being provided to the provincial government.
The secretary of the finance division through a letter said under the one per cent of the divisible pool, the provincial government was released Rs14.558 billion in 2010-11, Rs16.405 billion in 2011-12 and Rs9.295 billion in 2012-13 to meet extra expenditure relating to the cost of ‘war on terror.’
The Peshawar High Court through a suo moto notice had directed the finance division in November 2012 to release money to meet requirements of all IDPs, because it was the prime minister through whose directives, security forces launched operation in Fata due to which tribal people were displaced from their homes and took shelter in Peshawar, Nowshera and other areas.
The judgment said the federal government could not avoid discharging its constitutional and legal obligations, coming to the rescue of its citizens.
“Even otherwise, under the constitutional command, it is the duty of state and, on the top of it, the federal government to come to the rescue of its citizens when they are in trouble like in the present scenario and therefore, Fata Secretariat is directed to prepare a fresh summary for the amount of fund, required from the finance division on regular and long term basis.”
The provincial government, however, rejected the finance division’s stand and explained that the province was awarded one per cent of the divisible pool to bear additional costs it had been bearing due to the ‘war on terror.’
“The provincial government has categorically refused to pay power bills and bear other expenditure of IDPs,” said an official.
IDPs from tribal areas, who have been forced to migrate to the settled areas in the wake of militancy and subsequent military operations, have become liability for both provincial and federal governments. Many areas in Fata had been de-notified as conflict zones but IDPs had not been returned to their areas.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which he said stay of IDPs had become source of concern for the provincial government and police force had also to relocate all IDPs from the province to proper places inside Fata because they have come with baggage of local disputes creating law and order situation in the province.
According to Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), displaced families from Fata total 172,096 and of them, 17,334 are living in camps and 154,761 elsewhere.
Jalozai and Togh Serai camps shelter 12,231 and 1,075 displaced families respectively.
“The provincial government is neither paying power bills of Jalozai camp nor Togh Serai camp,” said an official, adding that KP was awarded one per cent of the divisible pool, while tribal areas, which had suffered socially and economically a lot in the ‘war on terror,’ had been ignored completely.