More than 20 hours of load shedding in rural Balochistan is a stark reminder of poor governance and incompetent officers at the Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO). Despite repeated assurances, the Company is yet to ensure power supply to remote areas of the province, which covers half of the country in terms of area.
Growers action committee has staged a series of protest demonstrations to mount pressure on the QESCO for acceptance of its demands. The farmers across the complain about huge financial losses because of power outages.
Prolonged and unannounced load shedding has become a common practice in every summer. The farmers complain that low or no power supply has severely affected standing crops in various parts of Balochistan. Majority of the people in this part of the country are financially dependent on agriculture sector, which has also been severely affected by drought hit like situation.
QESCO Chief Engineer Karim Jamali while speaking to this daily revealed about a shortfall of 1000 megawatts in Balochistan. He also blamed the growers and domestic consumers for not paying their bills. He revealed that there are more than 4 trillion rupees outstanding in Balochistan against growers, government departments and domestic consumers.
However, the growers disagree and link the payment of bills with availability of power supply.
Indeed, power theft is on the rise. Corrupt elements within the QESCO have cemented good ties with growers and other influential people. This has actually caused a loss of billions of rupees to the company. It is common saying that grease the palm of QESCO officials and then get uninterrupted power supply.
The issue is from both sides. The growers also pay a nominal amount of Rs.10000 at per tube well and then pump the under ground water non stop. The Balochistan government must take up the power shortfall issue with the federal government to address this issue once and for all.
QESCO should first launch a crack down against its own corrupt elements to ensure the recovery of outstanding amounts. Only then, the elements involved in massive power theft can be brought to book.