Citizens move high court against power outages

Updated 10 Aug 2020

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Th petitioners requested the court to declare as illegal the policy of Pesco of providing more electricity to posh areas and ignoring backward or rural areas. — File photo
Th petitioners requested the court to declare as illegal the policy of Pesco of providing more electricity to posh areas and ignoring backward or rural areas. — File photo

PESHAWAR: Several citizens have challenged persistent electricity loadshedding in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Peshawar High Court, requesting the court to issue directives to Peshawar Electricity Supply Company to provide electricity to all areas in the province without any discrimination.

A joint petition was filed by advocates Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel, Sikander Khan and four other citizens claiming that there was unannounced loadshedding in parts of Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa specially the interior city and Warsak Road.

They request the court to declare power loadshedding illegal as well as low voltage provided due to outdated machinery/infrastructure in the province.

They also pray the court to declare as illegal the policy of Pesco of providing more electricity to posh areas and ignoring backward or rural areas.

Petitioners request court to order provision of electricity to all areas without discrimination

The respondents in the petition are federal government through secretary water and power, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) through its chairman, Pesco chairman and Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) through its chairman. The petitioner state that they pay electricity bills timely and without any default.

They claim that in some of the areas the electricity is supplied only for an hour after which it remains suspended for many hours and even when the power is available it fluctuates. They state that due to low voltage, electric appliances could not function properly.

The petitioners claim that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa produces most of the electricity in the country and is home to many hydropower stations including Tarbela Dam.

They state that the respondents have come up with a policy whereby those, who pay less bills, are provided less electricity and those, who pay more bills, enjoy nonstop power supply, which means posh areas are provided more electricity as compared to poor and backward areas.

Thus, they state, the government has divided electricity consumers into highly paying and low paying areas.

In the past, they state, Federal Minister Murad Saeed had promised that electricity would be provided to KP on priority basis, but now he fails to fulfil his commitment.

They contend that consumers in KP has first right to receive electricity produced in this province. They state that Article 157 of the Constitution is silent on distribution of electricity amongst the provinces and it needs to be interpreted in favour of provinces producing it.

They point out that Warsak Dam is situated on Warsak Road, however, electricity produced in it goes to national grid, whereas inhabitants of the area have to face hours-long power outages.

The petitioners mention several disadvantages of construction of large dams for the relevant areas, stating that despite disadvantages faced by people because of Tarbela and Warsak dams, people have to face power loadshedding.

They state that according to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2019-20, the installed electricity generation capacity reached 37,402 megawatts in 2020 whereas the maximum demand coming from residential and industrial consumers stood at 25,000. They added that the same was confirmed by the relevant minister on July 4 and said that the country was producing surplus electricity and the reason behind power outages was administrative and technical shortcomings of distribution companies.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2020