ISLAMABAD - While millions of Pakistanis are suffering because of prolonged power outages, there are thousands of residents in the capital who are stealing electricity through ‘kundas’ (illegal connections). And what aggravates this sorry state of affairs is the fact that the Islamabad Electric Supply Company officials are either getting hefty bribes to turn a blind eye to this wrongdoing or simply doing nothing to put an end to this practice.
Two populous neighborhoods of the federal capital including Essa Nagri Colony and Muslim Abaadi in Sector-I/9 are getting their electricity illegally. The population of these colonies is estimated to be at least 10 to 15 thousand. Perhaps equally appalling is the fact that these two localities are illegal according to Capital Development Authority (CDA) records. There are around 17 kach abaadis or slums in the city and most of them too get their power supply illegally using kundas. During a visit to these two colonies, this scribe observed that the residents had connected kundas with main power lines and ironically the so call elite living there is not an exception.
Most of the people use these kundas to get electricity for their high-voltage appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and irons.
Pakistan Today learnt that since these two localities were illegal, the residents could not get a no objection certificate (NOC) from the CDA to get electricity connections legally from the IESCO.
Sources in the IESCO, who wished not to be named, told Pakistan Today that some two months ago some residents of the said area along with Pakistan People’s Party leader Babar Minhas met IESCO high-ups and asked for electricity connections but the officials refused. The officials told them to get NOCs from the CDA before applying for power connections.
The sources said the power pilferage was causing a huge loss to the company but the IESCO was finding it difficult to handle the situation.
They said only four of the kacthi abaadis had been regularised and their residents were paying bills on the basis of joint-billing system which he said too was problematic for the company.
They said despite many attempts no one could stop locals from power pilferage. “Although the IESCO was ready to give them legal connections but the CDA was unwilling to issue the NOCs,” the sources added.
The residents of Essa Colony told Pakistan Today that theyhad been living there for the last 25 years and despite assurances from consecutive governments they could not get the power connections. “We have to steal electricity since it is now a basic need because of hot weather and mosquitoes,” said Sohail, a resident of Essa Colony.
Even Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani while inaugurating a sewerage treatment plant in the locality had assured them about provision of all basic facilities including power supply but to no avail, said Mohsin Masih, another resident of the same area.
He said even the illegal connections cost them plenty since they had to buy new cables to be used as kundas once the IESCO removed them during a crack down. He said legal connections could be more affordable for them but they had been denied the facility since long.
A CDA employee, who lives in the same area, conditioning anonymity, said the place for the said colony had been allotted by the CDA Union to employees. He demanded the CDA should regularise the colony.
Talking to Pakistan Today, a spokesman for IESCO named Farooq Ahmed said the IESCO had its vigilance teams who regularly inspected all areas to stop power pilferage. He admitted they could not fix the problem permanently.
He said the IESCO had even got theft case registered against the ‘kunda mafia’ but to no avail. When asked about the hurdles in the legal power supply to those localities, he said he was ignorant about the issue.
Ramzan Sajid, a spokesman for the CDA said the authority could not an NOC to any illegal settlement and that those colonies were indeed illegal.
He said the IESCO had also provided many electricity connections without the required procedure. He said some political forces were creating hurdles in taking any action against those illegal settlements.