QUETTA - Things are turning to be more distressing for the 32-year old Abdul Hakeem, who owns a tailor shop at Jail Road in Quetta, because of prolonged loadshedding.

“We have to sew at least 10 dresses a day to complete the orders that we have taken. But with longer power cuts we can hardly manage half of the orders,” he told this scribe sitting near his sewing machine while most of his other workers sit on the steps outside his shop looking at the passersby as they wait for the electricity.

Hakeem is not the only one affected from the loadshedding, there are more desperate people finding it hard to survive in Balochistan.

Waheed waits in a long queue to buy ice from at a bazaar in Nushki district. Ice has been a hard to get commodity for the people of Nushki since four pylons were blown up in Machh area of Bolan district last week.

“I was just told that a block of ice had been brought from Quetta, so I decided to stand in line to buy some,” said 20 year old Waheed adding that the long hours of loadshedding were hard to bear in the ill-facilitated district.

At least 17 districts of Balochistan fell into darkness when four pylons of 220 and 132 KV were blown up in the Bibi Naani area of Machh in district Bolan on July 18. The damage cut off the supply to Quetta, Pishin, Qilla Abdullah, Harnai, Qilla Saifullah, Zhob, Ziarat, Mastung. Khuzdar, Awaran, Kalat, Nushki and other areas causing hardships in the holy month of Ramazan.

In response to the recent incident, a temporary supply line was activated from Habibullah Coastal Power House and the Sheikhmanda Thermal Grid Station. But these could only provide 380 MWs to the whole province resulting in long power cuts.

“We are in severe shortage of drinking water because there is no electricity to run the tube-wells” said Saleem Baloch a Mastung leader. He claimed that they were supplied with only 1 hour of electricity in 24 hours.

Sources in Wapda stated that 250 MWs, out of the available 380, were supplied to Quetta city only and other district headquarters could only be provided maximum two hours of electricity.

Amongst the most affected are the farmers who depend on tube wells to irrigate their lands. The Zamindar Action Committee has threatened to block the national highways in protest. “It is better to die protesting on roads than dying of hunger at home which seems to have become inevitable for the farmers of Balochistan,” said the spokesman for the committee adding that they were desperate to save their corps from being wasted because of dearth of electricity.

According to officials, the province was generating 1850 megawatts of power from Uch Power Plant, HUBCO Power Plant, Habibullah Coastal Power Project and Sheikhmanda Thermal Power House. However, the province was getting only 700 MWs from the national grid in return to cope with its energy needs which stand at 1620 MWs per day.

Hence a shortfall of more than 900 MWs is resultantly dealt with power cuts of 20 hours in rural and 10 hours in urban areas of the province.

However, Balochisan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik held a meeting with the Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif which included considering importing 1000 MWs of electricity from Iran and the provincial government’s urge for early completion of Loralai-DG Khan 220KV and Dadu-Khuzdar 220 KV transmission line does hint at the newly-elected government’s intent to solve the problem.

Experts say nature has bestowed Balochistan with immense opportunities generating solar, wind and geo-thermal energy to minimise its power shortfall and if such projects are promoted the province could be relieved from long-hours of loadshedding.