SWABI/PESHAWAR: The workers of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) accompanied by police clashed with consumers and were forced to leave the area when they tried to removed power meters in Maneri Bala village of Swabi on Sunday.

Stick-wielding consumers staged a protest and vowed that none of the Pesco staffers and police would be allowed to remove any power meter.

Nadeem Shah Bacha, the president of the Swabi Action Committee (SAC), led the protesting consumers.

“This is our electricity. This is our country. These are our resources. If anyone interferes and tries to seize the resources by force, we will not allow him at any cost,” he said. He added that as the people of Maneri Bala showed unity, he hoped residents of the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would also show unity.

“They grabbed my collar. You can see the marks on my neck. We will take revenge. Our resistance will continue,” said Mr Bacha.

District admin decides to launch campaign against electricity theft

Consumers said that Pesco should ask the local police station as how much bill it paid. They said that there were various institutions that consumed power without paying bills.

SAC has finalised a plan for a complete shutter down and wheel jam strike on June 30 against both federal and provincial governments for their failure to meet their demands. It sought provision of electricity at a concessional rate, end to power outages and exclusion of fuel charges from monthly bill.

The SAC members said electricity was generated at Tarbela Dam without utilisation of fuel. “Like the wheat of Punjab province, when electricity needs of the district are met, only then power will be supplied to other provinces,” they added.

Meanwhile, the district administration held a meeting regarding the control of electricity theft and recovery of payable bills.

The local political leaders assured the meeting that they would play their due role in helping Pesco and district administration to lessen line losses of electricity.

Officials said that a campaign would be launched with the help of public representatives to eradicate power theft and recover dues.

In Peshawar, power protesters shut down 22 feeders of Rehman Baba grid station for two hours on Saturday, disrupting power supply to several parts of the provincial capital, according to Pesco.

The protest was led by MPA Haji Fazal Elahi. Locals told Dawn that Saturday’s protest erupted after a prolonged outage on Friday, which the villages on the outskirts of the city saw from 6am in the morning till midnight.

They said that on Friday night, announcement regarding protest were made at mosques while similar messages were shared on Facebook and WhatsApp.

MPA Elahi also took to social media, asking people to join the protest. He said that he tried his best to resolve the issue of power outages but the federal government wanted to punish the people of KP.

On Saturday, morning a large number of people belonging to several villages gathered outside Rehman Baba grid station.

They pitched up a tent on the service road outside the grid station. Ring Road remained closed during the protest for some time.

A Pesco spokesperson told Dawn that a mob led by MPA Haji Fazal Elahi besieged the grid station. He said that protesters forcibly entered the grid premises and shut down all 22 feeders at the instigation of Mr Elahi.

He said that the closure of the feeders caused immense problems to people in several parts of provincial capital. He said that the power supply to the affected feeders was restored after two hours.

The Pesco spokesperson said that protesters were demanding a reduction in power outages but they were told to cooperate with authorities in the ongoing operation against power theft.

He said that Pesco officials conveyed to the protesters that owing to high losses power outages could not be reduced on their demand.

On the other hand, a video posted on social media showed Mr Elahi asking the Pesco staff to give the locals an Eid package of reduced loadshedding.

He said that he was responsible for installing power meters in his constituency, PK-84, and would cooperate with Pesco in removing illegal power connections.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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