HYDERABAD: Enra-ged traders and their supporters torched electricity bills in several Sindh towns on Tuesday as a mark of protest against unusual rise in the rate of power and different tariffs and demanded the caretaker government take back all inflated bills to give some semblance of relief to masses.

In Hyderabad, representatives of several trade organisations staged a demonstration at Hyder Chowk under the aegis of Hyderabad Tajir Action Committee. Saleem Vohra of Anjuman Tajiran Hyderabad, Kashif Sheikh of Sarrafa Bazaar and others, who led the protest, said agreements with independent power producers should be revoked and facility of free fuel for federal and provincial government departments should be withdrawn.

They said that business timing should be revised in consultation with chambers and trade organisations, solar energy system should be subsidised and loan should be extended to middle class people for obtaining the solar system on easy mark-up.

They said that all projects of wind power, atomic energy and Thar coal should be executed at the earliest, and called for devolution of power distribution companies down to district level.

In Mirpurkhas, scores of traders, ulama and their supporters held a demonstration at Market Chowk under the banner of Shehri action forum, civil society, ulama action committee, All Pakistan City Tajir Ittehad and Anjuman-i-Tajiran against burgeoning price of electricity and burnt the bills.

The protesters’ leaders condemned the government for hiking rate of taxes imposed on electricity bills and deplored that poor consumers were no longer able to pay heavily inflated power bills.

They warned the government to stop appeasing International Monetary Fund and blindly increase rate of electricity and essential commodities.

In Jacobabad, a large number of traders, members of civil society and rights activists took to the streets and staged a demonstration at local press club on a call given by Injuman-i-Tajiran against inflated electricity bills and burnt the bills as protest.

They lashed out at interim government and lamented that all governments before the caretakers surpassed each other in increasing inflation and tariff on electricity.

They said that common citizens, including traders, could no longer bear such massive inflation, which had compelled the poor to commit suicide. “We’ll not tolerate the new hike in electricity prices at any cost,” they warned. They advised the caretakers to provide relief to people by reducing prices of food, petroleum products and electricity.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2023

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