Upper Chitral residents plan hunger strike against power crisis

CHITRAL: Over 16,000 power consumers in upper Chitral have been facing frequent outages due to the old and faulty transmission lines and transformers though electricity is available at the Golen Gol hydropower station.

People in Mastuj subdivision, now elevated to district, are without electricity since August 2015 when the 4.2MW hydropower station of Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation (PEDO) was washed away by flash floods.

The area was started to be electrified by Golen Gol station of Wapda which was commissioned to work in February last year using the transmission line of the old power station.

The residents of the area complained that their trouble did not come to an end because they did not get smooth power supply due to tripping of the transmission line and transformers on daily basis.

Electricity to the whole area is suspended simultaneously due to the fact that the transmission line and transformers are too feeble to pick the required load. They said that in remote villages the power outage extended to weeks as Pedo had very few linemen to carry out recovery work and restore supply. The protest strikes against Pedo have become a routine in the villages.

Tehreek-i-Huqooq Mastuj, which is working for the rights of upper Chitral, has decided to start a hunger strike in March against Pedo. Its convener Parvez Lal has said that the strike will continue till the acceptance of their demands which included special repair of the transmission line and increasing the line staff for its maintenance.

When contacted, Pedo resident engineer at Reshun power station, Mohammad Wakil, confirmed the prevalence of the issue and shortage of line staff to maintain the 300km long transmission line. He said that presently there was only one line connected to the grid station of Golen Gol hydropower station and a fault at one point of the transmission line could affect supply to the whole area.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2019

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