KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Tuesday passed a private resolution unanimously in which the K-Electric was asked to pay Rs5 million to each of the more than 20 people electrocuted during the recent rains in the metropolis.

The resolution also urged the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to play the role of facilitator in ensuring the victims’ families received compensation from the sole power utility in the Sindh capital.

“Over 20 people lost their lives during the recent rains in Karachi and several got injured because of the negligence of K-Electric of leaving open cables exposed and that victims’ families deserve compensation of PKR five million per victim,” said the resolution as tabled by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Seema Zia on the private members’ day of the provincial legislature.

“The time has come for K-Electric to show remorse, admit guilt and do the right thing by giving proper compensation [to victims’ families],” added the resolution.

‘Families being pressurised to restrain them from going to court’

“This house urges Nepra to facilitate the families of the victims in receiving compensation from K-Electric.”

The mover, a medical practitioner, had her eyes brimming with tears when she said one of those unfortunate families who lost their loved ones because of electrocution had lost two of their young sons.

She said the two siblings had gone to grab a moment of joy during the rain, “but those carelessly exposed live wires snatched their lives and rendered the family to endure this grief for the rest of their life”.

Families being pressurised

She said families of the victims were “being pressurised” so that they did not move court.

“This is the situation where families are so terrified; and everyone, the provincial government in particular, should take up the issue with the relevant quarters,” said Dr Zia.

She said Nepra should make sure that the family of every victim got Rs5m as compensation.

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s parliamentary leader Mohammad Qasim said the people of Karachi had stopped praying for rains because of “killer live wires that are left unattended by the power utility carelessly”.

He said more than 30 people had died in the rains during the current monsoon alleging that the power company was “solely responsible for such deadly negligence”.

He asked why the prime minister had not taken notice of such events.

“Instead,” Mr Qasim said, “Prime Minister Imran sent one of his ministers here who received two crore rupees [Rs20m] from the utility for his so-called cleanliness drive in Karachi. Why that minister did not take action against those responsible for” the deaths, he asked.

He said the compensation money for the affected families should be Rs5m per victim.

Flawed power supply system

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Rabia Khatoon claimed the flawed system of the KE had led to the death of those people because of electrocution.

She demanded appropriate action into those deaths, adding that despite receiving payment according to inflated tariffs, the power utility did not provide relief and protection to Karachiites.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Abdul Rasheed asked why everyone was silent over the grave issue of bad governance and overbilling “rampant at the power company”.

He said the actual number of people that died from electrocution was much larger than the figures highlighted in the media.

While demanding that each affected family should receive Rs5m, he said: “We have also filed a case on this issue in court.”

He said the power utility had made no investment in its infrastructure in the city since it had been privatised, demanding there should be strict oversight over KE’s affairs.

He claimed various influential people in the government were enjoying monetary benefits from many such institutions.

PTI ministers criticised

Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sohrab Sarki said the federal government led by the PTI and its “highly motivated” ministers could hold the KE accountable for the city’s power woes.

“And while saying this,” said Dr Sarki, “We do not fancy scoring points on political grounds”.

He said action should be taken against those responsible for what happened in the city during the recent rains.

He said the KE should compensate the affected families in an honourable manner.

PPP’s Imdad Pitafi spoke briefly on the issue and mainly focused on criticising the federal government for its “incessant U-turns” on various issues and policies.

His harsh words against Prime Minister Imran Khan and his federal government did not receive a pleasant response from the opposition benches, particularly those belonging to the PTI.

All lawmakers belonging to the PTI and many others affiliated with other opposition parties stood and loudly protested against Mr Pitafi’s tone.

Restraint urged

Speaker Siraj Durrani tried to pacify the house at which Mr Pitafi said he was already practicing restraint in comparison to what PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Sheikh normally did in his speeches.

The chair decided to save the day when he put the resolution before the house and got it passed unanimously.

Earlier, ex-chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah spoke on a point of order in which he referred to Monday’s proceedings of the house in which PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman’s adjournment motion on the decade-old sale of Dadu Sugar Mill was taken up and got ruled out of order by the chair.

He said the mill sale was not processed during his tenure. However, he added that those who were accusing his government of corruption of some millions did not know the mill owed a debt of Rs3 billion. He said those who were slamming the government should go through the court’s verdicts of those days or ask their partners who were then partners in his coalition government in Sindh.

PTI’s Raja Azhar withdrew a privilege motion regarding a deputy superintendent of police’s alleged mistreatment of him during a teachers’ protest early this month after the government assured him that the matter would be looked into.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2019