LAHORE - People across major cities of the country have been facing extreme load shedding, a well condemned term for power outages in our neck of the woods, for well over five years now. Countless promises by the state functionaries and politicians in power have proven futile as nothing substantial seems to have been done to arrest the critically deteriorating situation regarding power supply.
This year’s Ramadan has not been an exception as well with power being in absence for more than 12 hours in major cities, like Lahore, and more than 18 hours in towns and rural areas, per day. People being fed up with prolonged duration of outages find no other way but to protest in order to get a utility that is considered equivalent to fundamental rights in many of the countries of the world. Government’s lack of any tangible action, other than their statements and holding of meetings, has made the matters even worse.
The worsening and widening energy shortfall has not helped the matters at all. With the power shortfall standing at 6,500 MW now, the country seems to plunge even more into darkness, in a manner of speaking. People took to the streets on Saturday, the eighth day of Ramadan, against the extended and unannounced power outages, especially during Sehari, Iftari and Travih timings across the province of Punjab and others, while turning violent in some cases.
In Jhelum, the protesters blocked the GT Road for more than three hours, burned tyres, besieged WAPDA offices and ransacked them, breaking doors, window panes and damaging other property. The city has not seen electricity for well over 18 hours. In Faisalabad, people protested against the power outages, burned tyres and chanted slogans against the government.
In Multan, the people staged a protest on Bahawalpur Road and raised slogans against the government and PEPCO authorities. Resultantly, traffic remained jam for almost three hours. The protestors said that they had been facing acute difficulties due to unannounced electricity load shedding.
Meanwhile, the residents of Pakpatan protested on Jamal Road against power outages and blocked the road towards Okara, Sahiwal and Arifwala. The demonstrators set the tyres on fire and also damaged power poles while protesting. The agonised locals said that they could not even observe the fast today due to high temperature and load shedding.
Police clashed with the protesters while trying to clear the road for traffic. They baton-charged and tear-gassed the rally. The protesters pelted police with stones. As a result, four constables, including an SHO, sustained injuries. Such far off areas as Chitral have also not been spared of this problem where the members of the Town Power Committee Saturday protested against unscheduled load shedding and called for an early end to power outages in the district the other day. The protest’s public meeting was presided over by Khan Hayatulla Khan, President of Town Power Committee. The members of the committee said that there was not a single power theft case reported in Chitral and people of the entire district paid their monthly utility bills regularly. Chairman WAPDA had also assured that there would be no load shedding in those areas where there was no power theft.
They said that chairman WAPDA had also assured for up-gradation of the local hydro power house. Through a resolution they demanded for interlinking Drosh, Reshun and Singor power houses and that the government should assure 24 hours electricity supply to town area including Balach, Singor and Shahmirandih villages.