Farmers, households fume with anger over inflated power bills

Published August 19, 2022
RAHIM YAR KHAN: Farmers protest against inflated agricultural electricity bills. — Dawn
RAHIM YAR KHAN: Farmers protest against inflated agricultural electricity bills. — Dawn

RAHIM YAR KHAN: A number of people, especially farmers, on Thursday took to the street to register their protest against inflated electricity bills in parts of Punjab.

In Rahim Yar Khan, the farmers gathered under the banner of the Kissan Board Pakistan (KBP), the Progressive Growers Association Punjab (PGAP) and the Kissan Bachao Tehreek Pakistan (KBTP) and blocked the national highway at Iqbalabad for several hours. They had come from all tehsils.

The speakers including Jamil Nasir, Jam Umair Burara, Ahmed Yar Walana, Saeed Mustafa Chadhar and Mian Faisal Mansoor chanted slogans against the government and the Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) for burdening them with additional taxes. The protesters, holding banners and placards, demonstrated at Iqbalabad Chowk and threw traffic out of gear on both sides of the highway.

The farmers said that owing to continuous rains in the area, most tubewells were not functional but bills were dispatched to them. The authorities ignored their previous demands and issued inflated bills, they said, adding that the government had put the farmers in a tight spot.

The government should immediately waive the Fuel Price Adjustment (FPA) and increase in per unit cost on agricultural electricity bills, said the framers.

The Saddar DSP and Iqbalabad SHO tried to disperse the farmers after negotiation but to no avail. Later, Mepco SE Abdul Aziz Sheikh, Sadiqabad EXEN Mumtaz Kalwar and RYK Assistant Commissioner Sarmad Ali Bhagat reached there and negotiated with the farmers who ended their protest with a threat that they would protest in Islamabad if their demands were not met by Aug 29.

VEHARI: Scores of women staged a protest demonstration in front of the Mepco office.

Women belonging to various parts of the city were carrying electricity bills, demanding that the government issue bills according to the units consumed.

Some of the women told reporters that on the one hand their breadwinners had been rendered jobless due to ‘anti-masses’ economic policies of the government and, on the other, exorbitant electricity bills were sent to them.

A woman said she received Rs24,000 bill in August, which included Rs13,000 FPA.

Another woman said her bill of Rs4,500 included Rs3,000 FPA.

The protesters staged a sit-in in front of the Mepco office for about six hours and blocked Multan Road. They raised slogans against the federal government, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz. They demanded that the prime minister resign for making their lives miserable.

During the protest, the Mepco officials locked the main gate and managed to move away from the backdoor. The protesters threatened that their protest would continue on a daily basis till the withdrawal of the FPA from bills.

Farmers under the banner of the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad also staged a demonstration against the power bills at V-Chowk, Vehari. They burnt electricity bills and demanded withdrawal of FPA. The farmers said they would not pay electricity bills with the tax.

BAHAWALPUR: A number of families demonstrated outside the Mepco Sutlej sub-division (Bahawalpur) at Goth Ghani. They raised slogans against the Mepco and blocked Underpass Road, causing a great deal of inconvenience to motorists and passersby for hours. They demanded withdrawal of the FPA from the bills.

OKARA: The farmers led by KBP senior vice chairman Mian Mustafa Wattoo and general secretary Malik Yasin took out a protest rally in Okara as well.

They said they would not pay the tubewell bills and warned the Lesco higher-ups against removal of meters.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022

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