Power cuts protested in Kohat, Dir, Mansehra

20 Aug 2020

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Protesters block a road in Kohat on Wednesday against power outages. — Dawn
Protesters block a road in Kohat on Wednesday against power outages. — Dawn

KOHAT: Consumers took to the streets in Kohat, Lower Dir and Mansehra against excessive power cuts on Wednesday.

Residents in Kohat staged a demonstration on the Kohat-Hangu Road, and railed against Pesco for subjecting them to excessive loadshedding since the burning of the grid station in mid July.

The consumers from Garhijaat, central city, Shahpur and other areas participated in the agitation. They chanted slogans against Pesco, denouncing the power company for sending them inflated bills.

They warned that if the routine loadshedding of four hours was not restored they would besiege the grid station.

Pesco executive engineer Younis Khan said electricity was supplied to Kohat from 500KV Shiekh Muhammadi grid station in Peshawar, which was overloaded. He said the problem would persist till the load was decreased on the Peshawar grid.

After negotiations with the Pesco officials, the protesters said if the problem was not fixed immediately then they would expand their protest.

Meanwhile, residents of Odigram and surrounding areas in Lower Dir blocked the Timergara-Chitral Road to protest a prolonged power breakdown caused by a fault in Toormang feeder for last three days.

Chanting slogans against Pesco, the protest leaders said a baby girl died at Shahi Koto on Wednesday due to power loadshedding in hot weather. They said power breakdown had also caused acute water shortage.

The protesters ended agitation, after assistant commissioner Tahir Ali, SHO Timergara Bakht Jamal and other officials held talks with them. The protesters, however, threatened to come onto the roads again if smooth power supply was not ensured within next 24 hours.

In Mansehra, the consumers blocked major roads against excessive power outages.

The rallies were taken out in Garhi Habibullah, Hasari, Oghi and other areas.

The protesters threatened to storm grid stations over the prolonged power suspension. They complained that the children and aged people couldn’t sleep the entire night.

The protesters reopened the main artery in Gari Habibullah after SHO Waqar Khan assured them of conveying their concerns to Pesco high-ups.

The protesters also blocked Milad Chowk for over three hours.

Sarbuland Khan, the president of trader’s body, and others said if power outages were not ended they would observe a complete shutter down strike and block the main artery for an indefinite period.Meanwhile, ANP provincial spokesperson and MPA Samar Haroon Bilour at a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday criticised the government over prolonged power outages and warned that it would stage street protests across the province if smooth electric supply wasn’t ensured.

She said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa produced 6,000 megawatts electricity against the need of 3,000-3,500 megawatts but it was denied the due electricity share.

Accompanied by members of the ANP information committee Taimoor Baz Khan, Salahuddin Mohmand and Hamid Toofan, she said the electricity produced in the province cost around Rs2 per unit but Wapda charged the residents Rs18-Rs22 per unit in an act of sheer injustice.

The ANP leader complained that the people of KP were subjected to power outages for 16-18 hours daily in the hot and humid weather.

She warned that if the government failed to address power crisis, the people would take to the streets against it across the province.

“Power consumers are holding rallies but the ministers don’t pay heed to the serious issue,” she said.

In a statement issued in Peshawar, SCCI president Engineer Maqsood Anwar Pervaiz said the frequent tripping and low voltage had badly affected industrial production and caused massive losses to industries.

He said the small industrial estate of Peshawar was the worst affected by power cuts.

“The government had announced the exemption of industries from loadshedding but even then, the power supply has been suspended for four to six hours daily. It is a sheer injustice to industrialists,” he said.

Mr Pervaiz said expensive machines and electrical appliances became faulty due to the frequent tripping and low voltage.

He said the industrial productivity and process, commercial and business activities were badly affected by the hours-long power outages.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2020