Defaulters’ deeds result in power cut for 50,000 people

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Over 31 remote villages in Dera Ghazi Khan have been left without power for the past two months. The lack of electricity is creating trouble for the businesses of more than 50,000 people in the area, and has jeopardised the area’s agriculture.

In the absence of a water canal, the area relies on tube wells, which in turn relies on power. MEPCO, to teach a lesson to a few defaulters, has cut the power for the entire area. It has been 60 days and there is no end in sight.

Thousands of law-abiding citizens have been made to suffer the perpetual nightmare due to the acts done by a handful few. It all started way before December 5, 2015; 115 defaulters were warned repeatedly by authorities that their connections would be cut-off. However, they used kundas to continue with their daily affairs.

Finding no remedy, frustrated and annoyed, officials at WAPDA thought of a novel plan and took down two feeders around midnight at grid station Noor Ahmed Wali, village Vehoa.  Since then, more than 50,000 people from more than thirty villages have been sent to the stone ages. The lack of electricity has caused an acute water shortage in many areas. People have to walk on foot 10 to 12 kilometres to find water. Wheat cultivation as been adversely affected as tube wells run on generators and the cost has doubled.

Out of total 150 tube wells in the area, 115 are defaulters on their dues.  80 per cent of the defaulters are members of Kissan Ittehad, Taunsa. The people, in their innocence, took their grievance to Kissan Ittehad, an association of farmers, headed by Abdul Ghafoor Kulachi in Taunsa Sharif.

Kulachi allegedly sensed the hidden opportunity in the electricity quandary and used it to mint money from the distressed people in the name of greasing palms of the officials concerned. In the past, Kulachi has taken money from the poor to take their agendas to the Supreme Court.

Kulachi who is also the elected chairman of UC-Litra allegedly asked for and received between Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 from nearly 300 farmers, depending on the land they owned.

When all efforts went in vain and no electricity was in sight. Norang Khan, a small landowner, appealed to a Multan High Court bench on January 9.

On January 12, the Honourable Court gave three day for the issue to be resolved. The time period was settled on the request of MEPCO Chief Engineer Sarfraz Ahmed Haraj. However, the matter was not resolved.

Norang Khan then filed a petition for contempt of court to be issued against Haraj. On February 3, the court ordered Hiraj to either appear in person and tell the Honourable Court why he has spoiled two orders of the court, or send his representative with news that electricity has been restored to those who have paid.

MNA Sardar Amjad Farooq Khan Khosa, spoke to Pakistan Today and said that he is holding daily meetings with concerned officials. This whole scenario concerns him deeply. “Defaulters must be caught, and the poor must not be harassed,” he said.

Khosa added that he is doing everything in his capacity to sort the situation out, and the culprits will be brought to the book.

Market Committee Taunsa Chairman Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Khetran and Anjuman-e-Tajraan President, Vehoa Ashraf Mehmood Leghari expressed concern over the situation.

“Our children are on the verge of collapse, our women travel 10, 12 kilometres to gather water, we appeal people in power to kindly do something,” Khetran said.

“A few shops have no business left; the perishable items that need refrigeration have been wasted. The losses are beyond count, the already dwindling market of Vehoa is on its deathbed,” Leghari added.

Ghulam Mujtaba Zafar Laghari, Khalid Mehmood Leghari, Mustafa Leghari, Asad Mehmood Leghari, Norang Khan Qaisrani, Ahmed Baksh Qaisrani, Muhammad Hussain Qaisrani,  Muhammad Sharif Qaisrani, Qazi Mustansir Hussain, Qazi Kalimullah and others who have paid electricity bills for their tube wells ask the authorities concerned what sin have they committed that they are being punished like this?

Bakht Bibi, a housewife, said, “Life was hard but at least I could get water from a place nearby. Now since there is no electricity around. I walk all the way to Boodo and Vehoa for water. I pray that the electricity comes back soon so that I can get rid of this tiring exercise,” she said.

Once again, Southern Punjab is at the receiving end of apathy, mismanagement and arbitrariness practiced by government babos. The situation needs to be resolved soon or there is no telling what will become of the people in the area.