On Monday, Farmers of Balochistan blocked all major roads in protest against electricity load shedding. According to their claim, they have lost Rs. 147 billion in agriculture products due to 23 hours of daily load shedding. Balochistan is the biggest victim of electricity load shedding and this fact is not very well known in rest of Pakistan. Both Federal government and provincial government of Balochistan are not bothered about the sufferings of people of Balochistan due to excessively long hours of load shedding.
Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan faces daily load shedding of 4 to 8 hours, district headquarters in rest of the districts face 12 hours of load shedding and all villages get only one hour of electricity in a day. The miseries of people living in rural areas of Balochistan, courtesy of electricity load shedding, are unimaginable.
Total electricity demand of Balochistan is 1,650 Megawatt (MW) and the electricity grid in Balochistan has the capacity to supply only 650 MW of electricity. However, federal government only provides Balochistan with 300 MW of electricity due to Rs. 132 billion of unpaid electricity bills. Rs. 115 billion of the total dues are payable by the farmers of Balochistan, according to the claims of Quetta Electricity Supply Company (QESCO). Zamindar Action committee (ZAC), union of farmers of Balochistan, rejects the figure of Rs. 115 billion and claims that it’s massively inflated.
A high level team was sent by Prime Minister of Pakistan to discuss the electricity problem of Balochistan with Chief Minister. After the recommendations of the team, PM ordered to increase the electricity supply to Balochistan. Very next day electricity pylons were blown up by miscreants in Jaffararbad region of Balochistan. As a result, Balochistan is still facing massive load shedding and electricity supply is not more than 300 MW.
It’s a genuine problem that miscreants blow up electricity pylons frequently in Balochistan. However it’s the incompetence of National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) that those pylons are not repaired quickly. Some quarters in Balochistan blame that delay in repair of electricity pylons is deliberate so that share of electricity of Balochistan can be given to other provinces. When the transmission lines that transport electricity from UCH power plant in Balochistan to Sindh are blow up, NTDC repairs them very quickly. However, it takes NTDC several days to repair the transmission lines coming from Sindh to Balochistan. Both transmission lines pass from the same area and the level of security threats is same but difference in duration of repair works hints towards deliberate mischief on part of NTDC.
In order to increase the capacity of electricity grid network in Balochistan, two new transmission lines are under construction since ages. Dadu-Khuzdar and Dera Ghazi Khan-Loralai transmission lines were supposed to be completed in December 2011. Even today, neither of the transmission lines has been completed. It must be noted that there are no security threats in the regions where these two transmission lines pass through. Therefore, NTDC can’t concoct the excuse of security threats to justify delay in establishment of new transmission lines. The only plausible reason for delay in construction of the two transmission lines is that federal government wants to supply the share of electricity of Balochistan to other provinces. Therefore, Delays in construction of transmission lines and capacity issues in existing transmission lines are just excuses.
It’s ridiculous to collectively punish entire Balochistan if agriculture consumers have not paid their bills. In fact, there are outstanding dues of agriculture consumers in other provinces but nowhere electricity supply to entire province has been significantly reduced on the flimsy pretext of unpaid agriculture dues. The discrimination that Balochistan is facing at the hands of Federal Ministry of Water and Power is extension of 68 year old policies which has created a sense of deprivation among people of Balochistan.
The question arises that why Balochistan faces discrimination in terms of electricity supply? The simple reason that one can fathom is the current political government in Balochistan which has rendered the province as a political orphan. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government of PTI can take a stand for the due rights of the province. In Sindh PPP will protest if electricity supply is cut-off to any region of the province. Unfortunately, the balochistan government can’t protest even if there is 23 hours of daily load shedding. Balochistan government owes its existence and stability to patronage of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. When Dr. Malik Baloch is dependent on blessings of Nawaz Sharif to prevent a no-confidence motion against his government, in such a case how can he dare to protest against 23 hours of daily load shedding?
At the moment, Political parties of Balochistan are vehemently protesting against changes in proposed route of China-Pak economic corridor. They should also use their energies to protest against unbearable load shedding in Balochistan. In fact, a high level delegation comprising representatives of all political parties of Balochistan should meet Prime Minister and protest against injustice meted out to deprived people of Balochistan through load shedding. No one expects Dr. Malik or his coalition partners to solve this problem because they are happy with non-stop supply of electricity to VIP zone of Quetta.
The Balochistan Point
Published in The Balochistan Point on February 25, 2015