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SAHIWAL: A chairman and vice-chairman of two union councils belonging to the ruling PML-N have launched a campaign to protest what they call “discrimination” against the power consumers of their constituencies who are being subjected to 18-20 hours of outages, allegedly to ease Faisalabad, the constituency of the state minister concerned.

The campaign has been launched by UC-4 Chairman Masood Khan Mohmand and UC-6 Vice Chairman Ali Azhar, by displaying banners inscribed with slogan’s against State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali and federal minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif, in the city.

The two local government representatives have hung more than three dozen banners in different bazaars and intersections of the city, blaming the two ministers for the plight of almost half of Sahiwal’s population that was suffering because of “unjustified” loadshedding.

They also led a procession taken out by Tariq Bin Zyad Colony residents in protest against the “injustice”.

The residents warned the Mepco authorities of violent protest if outages were not checked.

They said the two urban union councils (UC 6 and 4) were being subjected to 18-20 hours loadshedding since the start of Ramazan.

According to sources, half of the urban areas of the city, including Fateh Sher Colony, Mouakal Colony, 85/6-R, Goal Chowk, Bhandari Chowk, Mohalla Islamabad and Mazdoor Puli were linked to Jaranwala power feeder instead of local ones -- Yousafwala and Sahiwal.

A senior employee in local Mepco executive engineer (EXEN) office told Dawn requesting anonymity that because of Abid Sher Ali’s influence there was less loadshedding in Faisalabad city and the excessive load was being shifted to Jaranwala feeder, that fell in third category, facing maximum outages.

“Now all the above mentioned (urban) localities are connected with Jaranwala (feeder) so they have to suffer more than 18-20 hours loadshedding,” he said.

Ali Azhar said before launching the campaign against leaders of his own party he met different officers of the Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) but none of them addressed the grievances of his voters.

He asked how people could brace 43-45 degrees Celsius temperatures when there was 18-20 hours loadshedding.

Ali Azhar said it was in this backdrop that he hung banners and launched a campaign against Khwaja Asif and Abid Sher Ali. He said the campaign would continue till both ministers took steps to resolve Sahiwal’s loadshedding problem.

EXEN concerned Mehar Allah Yar admitted some areas of Sahiwal were getting power supply from Jaranwala feeder which fell in third category grid stations, resulting in double loadshedding there. He said these areas had to face loadshedding from National Transmission and Distribution Centre (NTDC), Islamabad, besides regular outages under schedule of Faisalabad region.

He said a Sahiwal region team was working out a plan to link all city localities to Yousafwala grid station having 500KV capcity.

“Once this is done the situation will improve,” he hoped.

Abid Sher Ali talking to Dawn denied having issued any instruction to Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) to supply additional electricity to Faisalabad at the cost of other cities of Punjab.

He said the Fesco chief told him that no transmission line was linked to Sahiwal from Faisalabad.

“I have asked Fesco to issue a press release and clarify the situation,” the minister added.

According to sources, Punjab Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed also talked to the Mepco chief executive and asked him to check unscheduled loadshedding in Sahiwal.

The minister said no unscheduled outages would be tolerated.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2016