PESHAWAR, Aug 3: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has turned a deaf ear to the Peshawar Electric Supply Company requests for providing its staff with security to repair two of its towers destroyed eight months ago near Peshawar.
Provincial home and tribal affairs secretary Azam Khan told Dawn on Friday that provincial police were hesitant to go to the area where repairs had to be done.
A Pesco official said the provincial government’s silence on the matter had left the 500KV electricity transmission line from Tarbela to Peshawar nonfunctional for eight months, forcing the company to supply electricity to Peshawar from alternate sources.
He said the repeated Pesco requests to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for providing protection to its staff for repairing the two damaged towers went unheeded.
The official said the company’s three linemen and nine labourers were kidnapped in January 2012 from the site of the repair works in Surizai near Peshawar city and they had yet not been recovered.
“We can’t carry out repair work unless the provincial government provides us with security and ensure our kidnapped workers’ recovery,” said a senior Pesco official.
The home and tribal affairs secretary said police wanted the Khyber Agency administration to provide it with a security cover form the Khyber Agency side, helping police provide security to Pesco staff for repairs.
On its part, the Khyber Agency administration, according to Mr Khan, is reluctant to provide cover to the provincial police as the political administration is of the view that the site of the repair work is situated in the provincial jurisdiction.
“It is more of an issue of coordination between the provincial police and Khyber Agency’s administration,” the home secretary said, adding that the Peshawar Division’s Commissioner had held a meeting a couple of days back and hopefully the matter would be resolved soon.
Pesco officials said the repair work could not be carried out unless the Company’s staff was provided security. “We have already got three of our linemen kidnapped following which we cannot take more risks,” said an official.
The 500KV line that supplies electricity from Tarbela to Peshawar was blown up by unknown miscreants in the Surizai area of Peshawar district more than eight months ago following which the city is receiving electricity from 132KV line from Warsak.
Shaukat Afzal, Pesco’s spokesman, when contacted, said the Company had contacted the provincial government, time and again, for providing police cover to its staff for carrying out the repair works.
“We are waiting for a positive reply from the Provincial Chief Secretary and senior police officers who have been contacted several times for helping us to conduct the repair works,” said Mr Afzal.
“They (provincial authorities) have not turned down our requests, but they have not taken any concrete measure so far,” he added.
According to Pesco officials, the 132KV line that is supplying power to Peshawar is overloaded as it is feeding electricity to almost the whole of Peshawar and its adjoining Nowshera district.
They said the 132KV line supplying electricity to Peshawar ran greater risk of developing major fault for being overloaded and in such an eventuality the power distribution system could be rendered nonfunctional for hours as a result of which a substantially large part of Peshawar would be without electricity.
“The city has already experienced such a situation a few days back when the 132KV line broke down when a portion of it melted on a hot July day, sending Peshawarites without electricity for several hours continuously,” said a senior Pesco official. Pesco officials said the situation required immediate attention as Peshawar’s power consumption requirements could not be met without restoring the 500KV supply line damaged by miscreants eight months ago.
Though the City was also being supplied electricity from an alternate 220KV power line from Ghazi Barotha power house, major load had been absorbed by the 132KV line, risking the distribution network, said an official.
“Peshawar is teetering on the brink of a major power crisis as the transmission line that is supplying power to the city is insufficient to feed the entire distribution system,” said an official.