RAWALPINDI: Residents of different localities staged demonstrations on Tuesday against inflated electricity bills, blocking G.T. Road and Marrir Chowk.

The protests were held in Rawat, Union Council No. 2 in Dhoke Ratta and Murree Road. The protesters burnt electricity bills and demanded the government to abolish all taxes on electricity bills.

Due to the demonstrations, a massive traffic jam occurred on all roads, including Murree Road, Kutchery, Soan Bridge, T-Chowk, Rawat, Islamabad Expressway, Faizabad, Shamasabad, Rawal Road and Airport Road, causing immense trouble for commuters and pedestrians.

Besides holding demonstrations outside the Iesco offices, people resorted to social media to criticise Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet members.

The residents of Rawat and surrounding areas gathered at Rawat Bus Terminal and agitated against the imposition of extra taxes in electricity bills.

Basharat Khan, a resident of Rawat, said last July, he had received a bill of Rs6,000, but this time around, he got a bill of Rs28,000, adding that on top of this, Iesco authorities were snapping connections of those consumers who were unable to pay the bills.

Another protester, Niamat Khan, said Shehbaz Sharif had promised to provide relief to people, but Iesco had failed to follow his directives.

Similarly, Rafique Ahmed, who was protesting on Murree Road, said the present government had made life of the poor miserable. He said he was earning Rs15,000 per month and was living in a small house with his family. He said he just used two fans in the summer, and for that, Iesco had sent him a bill of Rs25,000.

“This is ridiculous. Where should I go? How will I feed my family,” he said.

In Marrir Chowk, dozens of consumers staged a protest against the government and Iesco for sending high bills. They said Wapda would send electricity bills ranging from Rs4,000 to Rs5,000, but now it was more than Rs22,000.

“How will we run our expenses after paying such a huge amount in bills,” they added.

Meanwhile, following protests by citizens against inflated electricity bills, the Iesco authorities have sought police deployment around installations to ensure safety of their employees.

According to sources, the Iesco superintending engineer (SE) Rawalpindi wrote a letter to the city police officer (CPO) in which he acknowledged that electricity bills for the month of August were abnormally high due to revision of tariff and the fuel price adjustment (FPA). As a result, consumers were visiting different offices of Iesco in the shape of groups and were protesting against the huge electricity bills, he said, adding that the Iesco employees were unable to perform their duties satisfactorily.

The SE termed the situation alarming and feared a law and order situation. He therefore requested the CPO Rawalpindi that police personnel be deployed at Iesco offices to prevent protesters from damaging installations and harming employees.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2022

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