People burn bills in Punjab to vent anger on high power tariff

Published August 27, 2023
TOBA TEK SINGH: Shirtless children stage a rally at Hafizabad against inflated electricity bills.— Dawn
TOBA TEK SINGH: Shirtless children stage a rally at Hafizabad against inflated electricity bills.— Dawn

LAHORE: People across Punjab, including the provincial metropolis, have continued venting their anger at the high rates of electricity, taking to the streets in massive demonstrations and burning their electricity bills en masse, refusing to pay them.

A massive increase in the tariff of electricity and taxes on the bills have left the consumers with no option but to stage demonstrations as they can no longer afford to pay for the utility.

Besides Lahore, furious consumers held protests against the hikes in electricity tariff in Bahawalnagar, Toba Tek Singh, Sahiwal and Chiniot among others. In the provincial metropolis, protest demonstrations were held at many places, including Hall Road and Kahna.

“Most consumers using 200 units or so have received bills up to Rs15,000. And those who used 300 or slightly above received bills amounting to Rs20,000 to 25,000. Now, the government should justify how a family earning Rs30,000 to 35,000 per month can pay such huge bills,” deplored a protester in a demonstration at Kahna.

Furious consumers hold protests across Punjab, refuse to pay bills

“After paying the power bill, what is left for a worker to spend the whole month with,” he wondered, demanding the government immediately reduce all the bills.

Talking to Dawn, a construction worker at Johar Town exploded when asked about the situation he and his fellow workers were facing after getting high bills of electricity. He said most workers in his area received bills last month ranging between Rs5,000 to 10,000 despite the fact they used only 100 to 200 units.

On the other hand, the situation may worsen further when the most recent raise in electricity cost would be included in the bills of the next month as the current bills are without them.

“The bills against which the people are protesting these days have no raise in the tariff announced by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) four days ago. So this will trigger anger of the consumers further next month when they will receive bills with more increase in the power rate,” an officer, requesting anonymity, raised the alarm bells.

All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran Secretary General Naeem Mir suggested to the government to waive off all taxes on the bills of consumers using up to 200 units.

Talking to Dawn, he said the traders were not only worried about their house power bills but they were perplexed about high bills of their shops, business premises etc.

PML-N central leader and former minister Abid Sher Ali has also expressed concerns at the increased power tariff, taxes and the mass protests.

“The poor family using two ceiling fans have received bills up to Rs35,000. And they are paying the bill by selling ornaments or taking loans,” he said while speaking at a press conference in Faisalabad on Saturday.

The former minister said while the poor people were concerned about the inflated bills, the officers of Wapda and power distribution companies etc were using electricity free of cost.

BAHAWALNAGAR: Scores of citizens and traders held protests across the district on Saturday against the massive hike in electricity prices that has led to an increase in the cost of living and inflation rate.

They warned the government to address the issue or face the consequences.

The main protest was held on the Haroonabad Road where angry protestors kept the road blocked for hours while burning tyres on it. They burnt electricity bills also while marching on the road and demanded that the chief justice of Pakistan take immediate notice of the issue.

In Minchinabad, the Minchinabad Bar Association also observed a strike against the raise in electricity tariff. The schoolchildren also took to the streets to record their protest against the rising electricity prices.

TOBA TEK SINGH: Scores of shirtless minor students took out a procession at Hafizabad on Saturday against inflated electricity bills and marched on various roads.

They burnt power bills and shouted slogans against the government. At Adda 25 Pul in Shorkot tehsil, scores of people blocked the Multan Road for traffic to condemn the high power bills.

On the Jhang Road in Shorkot, the locals staged a protest against the hike in electricity rates. They set tyres on fire on the road and blocked the traffic.

The lawyers observed a complete strike at the same issue at Gojra, Kamalia and Pirmahal.

CHINIOT: Police foiled bids of the citizens to hold rallies against inflated electricity bills.

Some rallies were taken out from various areas on the call of civil society and furniture workers associations against the inflated electricity bills at various places of Chiniot city.

A furniture workers’ protest held at Pipal Chowk near the City Police Station where the workers set their electricity bills ablaze in protest against ever-increasing electricity tariff which has made it impossible for them to feed their families.

Malik Tahir Hussain, a leader of the furniture workers association, said the workers were starving and selling their valuables like gold, motorcycles and machinery to pay their electricity bills. He demanded the caretaker prime minister take urgent measures to reduce their electricity bills.

The workers’ rally later went to Jhang Road where it dispersed peacefully.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2023

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