ISLAMABAD - The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has recently taken extraordinary security measures to secure the building already situated in a highly restricted area.

The road which leads to the NEPRA building is restricted for general public. A barrier is installed on the road, guarded by two armed security men. This barrier is placed there despite Supreme Court's recent orders to remove all illegal barriers from the roads of the capital.

After crossing the barrier, on right side is government offices and on left is a fortress type Nepra building.

The outer wall of the authority has turned silver due to the heavy wrapping of barbed wires. The compound is secured with the security guards.

After crossing the front gate, guards as one enters the building, he has to pass through a heavy scanner, and walkthrough gate. After passing walkthrough gate a security guard perfoms manual search of every visitor.

The guard may ask to empty pockets, or empty bags. Some staff members find it annoying especially females.

"It is disgusting, females normally carry many personal things which they don't want to be searched in open," said Ammara (not real name), an officer of the authority.

She said that the extraordinary security measures were taken by the top official and she cannot utter a word.

Some other officials also showed their dissatisfaction over the excess security measures and said that they were constantly observed.

"It is like we are doing job in some spy organization. Anybody who visits the office goes through such a long procedure that people avoid visiting us," another official said, adding there are reports that some hi-fi cameras would also be installed in offices and even washrooms.

It is to be mentioned here that almost every alternative day, general hearings take place in the hall of the authority situated at 5th floor, but the number of participants has been thinning over the last couple of months. During recent many meetings there was not a single public representative.

According to the Nepra act, it is the primary job of the authority to safeguard the interest of general consumers.

The Nepra chairman believes the authority had to carry out its proceedings no matter if someone comes or not.

"We have advertised in the paper; we cannot do anything if no one shows up, we have to complete our job," Chairman Nepra, Brigidiar (retd) Tariq Sadozai, told the scribe during a recent important public hearing where there was no public representative.

Some people believe the extraordinary measures are discouraging general public from visiting the office for public hearings or even lodging general complains.

When asked that why so much expensive security equipments were imported from tax payers' money to secure already secured premises, the officials said, it was a donation from USAID. When contacted, sources in US embassy, however, denied any such donation.

"Under the USAID power distribution programme USAID offers support in the form of technical assistance and provides equipment such as energy meters and anti-theft cables only", the sources said.

The Nepra chairman, when contacted, said that he has taken the security measures in accordance with the present law and order situation of the country.