WAJIDULLAH KHAN

PESHAWAR - Due to the alleged ill-planned strategy and lethargic attitude, Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) has totally failed to recover over Rs 500 million outstanding against domestic power consumers in Badhber, the suburban area of the provincial metropolis. So far, it has become an uphill task for Pesco even to collect routine power bills from the area.

According to Pesco record about Rs 528.75 million are outstanding against the domestic power consumers but the recovery is almost negligible due to the wrongly handling strategy of certain high officials in the company.  

The historically reported hard natured people of Badhber area comprising Badbher Kali, Mera Badbher, Mera Masho Gagar, Masho, Afridio Garhey, Qaziabad, and certain parts at Main Kohat Road were reluctant to pay electricity bills. The locals were complaining that they were facing 14 to 18-hour long loadshedding event in the winter season, which is quite injustice to them.

According to the figures available with TheNation, there are total 7650 domestic consumers of power, out of which around 2000 have been disconnected with power supply on account of not paying dues for the last around five years, while out of the remaining over 5600 running consumers of electricity in the area, more than 3,000 consumers stand as defaulters.

Though the Badbher Sub-division officials are pushing hard for making recovery, yet the progress could not gain momentum in the face of residents of these localities, as the locals were reluctant to pay their monthly bills. The locals were of the view that they were used to pay electricity utility bills regularly but after the Pesco officials put huge arrears, ranging from Rs 20000-30000 against each domestic consumer without explaining the reason.

Some four years back, we stopped paying our bills, they added.

“Despite the fact that earlier we were regularly paying our utility bills but after the injustice started by Pesco, in reaction the locals stopped paying electricity bills,” an elder Shahbaz Khan of Badhber village informed.

Another Syda Gul Afridi, resident of Afrido Garhey, said that normally poor people do not need to pilferage electricity as they didn’t need for it. But if a person earns Rs 5000 per month and he had to pay Rs 15000 arrears and 2000 to 3000 rupees monthly electricity bill, then the situation will defiantly force him to show solidarity with villagers when the issue of nonpayment of power bills arises.

When asked a Pesco official said that why the company had put so huge arrears against the consumers and also didn’t mention any reason for it, he said on condition not anonymity.

He also said that actually the situation turned wrong when some non-Pashtoon high officials of Pesco visited the area where they (officials) found few connections of certain influential defaulters in the area. The officials, who didn’t understand the hard nature of the locals, disconnected the said power connections without giving any prior notice and also used abusive language.

The locals got infuriated and they beat the officials. The company in retaliation sent extra arrears against all the consumers and restricted the officials concerned not to give any relief to the complainants of the specific localities, he maintained.

Then the local consumers also stopped paying monthly bills and started using electricity by force, as the area is also not in full control of the local police due to the deteriorated law and order situation in the adjacent tribal areas, he added.

When this scribe tried to contact the Company spokesman at his official landline number to take his version on the issue, he didn’t attend the call and neither bothered to respond later on.