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Consumers protest four-day power breakdown, Hesco's apathy.

Byline: Qamaruddin Shaikh

MIRPURKHAS -- Several hundred residents of Hameedpura Colony took to the streets of their neighbourhood on Tuesday after failing to get any positive response from officials of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) to restore power supply to their area which had gone off four days ago.

The protesters blocked the main thoroughfare, Ring Road, by burning tyres and junk to vent their anger, saying that it's height of callousness on the part of the power utility that they were not ready to address their complaints for four days. They said that their routine life had been badly affected due to absence of electricity and they were also facing an acute shortage of water resulting from the same problem as they could not operate pumping machines.

The protesters, along with their families, raised slogans against Hesco's Mirpurkhas division executive engineer for his indifferent attitude towards their woes and demanded action against him. They said they had been paying electricity bills, yet not being treated by the utility as their consumers. They said Hesco was bound to rectify any fault causing interruption or breakdown but workers of the utility would always seek money to look into any of their problems.

Scores of PMTs break down due to severe heat, overload in Mirpurkhas

Police arrived at the protest venue and held talks with the protesting families.

They told the police, as well as local reporters, that many pole-mounted transformers within their area had burnt out last week rendering a vast area without power. They said Hesco teams repaired some of them to restore power supply to some areas but stopped further works though another five PMTs remained out of order.

They said Hesco was supposed to undertake the repair work simultaneously at all sites where the fault had developed to ensure that all consumers could suffer the outage for a minimum possible time. However, they pointed out, the Hesco teams took four days to restore electricity to almost half of the affected area. Still, they seemed to be not ready to get the remaining work done, they deplored.

They appealed to the higher authorities to look into the matter as absence of electricity and water had made their lives miserable.

The protesters kept the road blocked for more than two hours before police persuaded them to clear it.

Meanwhile, sources in Hesco's Mirpurkhas division office revealed that as many as 25 PMTs had burnt out in recent days due to extremely hot weather conditions and overload. They said all these transformers were taken to a private technician's workshop for repairs.

After the breakdown of a large number of PMTs, the workshop came under heavy load of work and faced hardship in accomplishing the task. In the meantime, perturbed power consumers went to the workshop and pressured the workers to repair their PMTs first.

However, the workshop operator, Mr Ikram, failed to convince them that it would take considerable time to repair them. This led to an altercation during which Mr Ikram was manhandled by some of the consumers.

Sensing danger of further assault, Mr Ikram closed the workshop, located in front of the city's vegetable market, and did not return to work till Tuesday, the sources said.

The sources said that Hesco executive engineer Ibrahim Soomro appeared in deep trouble due to closure of the workshop. He arranged for some technicians from Mirwah Gorchani and Tando Allahyar to get the 25 PMTs repaired.

The sources also said that the situation had gone out of the control of the officers working at Hesco's sub-divisional office after so many PMTs broke down within a few days.

The XEN was also under immense pressure amid widespread complaints by consumers that Hesco teams were extorting them for the restoration of power supply to their areas. PPP MPA Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, taking notice of the complaint, said a few days back that he would launch a campaign against Hesco's Mirpurkhas division after consulting Deputy Commissioner Zahid Hussain Memon.

Later, a meeting was held between the DC and Hesco's executives to sort out the issue. The campaign was deferred and Hesco officials undertook to take appropriate measures against unscrupulous elements and to maintain normal power supplies to the affected areas.
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Author:Qamaruddin Shaikh
Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 29, 2020
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