QUETTA: More than 15,000 illegal tube wells operate throughout Balochistan right under the nose of the Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), an official said.

Tube wells pump water and irrigate land in Quetta, Kalat, Killa Abdullah, Pishin, Khuzdar and other parts of the province, a QESCO official told Dawn on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The official said illegal tube wells remained the main cause of increasing dues of QESCO against the growers’ community. "Currently there are more than 100 billion rupees dues against agricultural consumers," he said.

However, Malik Naseer Shahwani, a central leader of the Balochistan Growers Action Committee declared the allegation as baseless and termed it as being far from reality. "First of all QESCO should provide power supply and then speak about dues," Shahwani said.

QESCO's dues against the federal and provincial government departments, industrial, agricultural and domestic consumers stood at Rs115 billion until August 2014.

The QESCO official said that even the owners of registered tube wells were reluctant to pay fixed charges of Rs6,000 per month.

"The company is faced with serious financial crisis," he said adding that, "Domestic consumers always shoulder the burden of tube well owners."

Balochistan needs 1,600 mega watt of electricity supply but the province only receives 650 mega watts, which is not enough to cater to the consumers’ needs.

Tubewell owners and QESCO officers have cemented good ties and therefore they freely operate in far-flung areas of Balochistan without paying a single penny to the company, the officer further alleged.

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