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Power authority asked to honour decisions

April 25, 2003

MUZAFFARABAD, April 24: AJK Minister for Industries Chaudhry Masood Khalid on Thursday accused the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) of dishonouring the decisions approved by President Gen Pervez Musharraf regarding power tariff for Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“Wapda is a wayward organization which does not recognize the authority of the federal government, as it is violating the decisions taken by the president and prime minister of Pakistan,” he said at a news conference here.

The press conference was held in the wake of a row between AJK government and Wapda over determination of power tariff for Azad Kashmir. The dispute has also stalled the signing of an agreement between Muzaffarabad and Islamabad to allow Wapda to kick off the Mangla Dam extension project.

Wapda, said the minister, had been arbitrarily increasing power tariff for Azad Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of Nepra decisions although those decisions were not applicable to AJK.

The power tariff for Azad Jammu and Kashmir was determined by the federal government but Wapda was charging bulk tariff despite the fact that 90 per cent of the users were domestic consumers, he said.

The minister pointed out that in Pakistan Wapda itself was responsible for distribution of electricity and maintenance of the infrastructure, whereas on the contrary expenses on such matters were borne in Azad Jammu and Kashmir by the AJK electricity department from its own resources. Nevertheless, he said, the tariff being charged by Wapda to AJK was double than that of what it was charging in the provinces.

“Azad Kashmir should not be treated in view of its area or population, which may be small, but its ideological geo-strategic position is very important and it guarantees the defence of Pakistan,” he said.

Stating that Mangla Dam was the outcome of the sacrifices of the Kashmiris, the minister regretted that the benefit of the dam’s construction had not been passed on to the people of AJK.

He rejected as misleading Wapda’s claim, published in a section of press, that AJK was its defaulter.

They had made the “bogus claim” in a bid to divert public attention from the main issue, he said, adding that the factual position was that the power authority had drawn access payment from AJK.

Responding to another question, he said that the AJK government had convinced with great deal of efforts the residents Asked if the Wapda’s attitude could foment anti-Pakistan sentiments, he avoided a direct reply and rather counter questioned: “What would happen when you are not ready to listen to what the majority of a region says and give them concessions accordingly?”

To a question, he said no one could suspend power supply to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Wapda would have to accept the just stand of AJK.

He said that the Azad Jammu and Kashmir would request the president and prime minister of Pakistan to get their decisions implemented.