Power protests knock at Chief Minister’s door

Tariff Hike ‘Persecutes’ Valleyites

IMRAN MUZAFFAR

Srinagar, Nov 13: Around two dozen people mostly women—furious over indiscriminate power tariff hike—on Tuesday broke a commanding security grid near Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s residence at Gupkar Road here, raising slogans against the “imperial policies” of state government.
The protestors from Sonwar and its adjoining areas marched towards the Chief Minister’s residence at nearly 1 pm in a bid to register their complaint before the Minister of Power Development Department against “indiscriminate power tariff hike”.
The furious protestors shouted anti-government slogans and demanded an end to “persecution of poor” by the state government. “Get us the Chief Minister. Is it power tariff hike he had promised us? We need to talk face to face like he did with us when he had asked for votes,” the protestors shouted to a police official. “Omar Sahib is not here. We can sort out the matter. See we have got PDD officials here as well. New bills would be provided,” the police official replied.
Protestors accused the Power Development Department of charging them bills in thousand of rupees. “I am a poor man. I have been paying Rs 200 per month. Yesterday I got a bill of Rs 1300,” a local of Sonwar, Muhammad Sultan Shah said. “All of them burnt the bills but I have kept mine as a proof of how government is hitting us,” the 65-year-old Sultan added.
The locals of adjoining Palpora, Indira Nagar and Balamsar said PDD sent bills charging them Rs 2000 each house without any information. “The department is insisting us to utilize 250 watt of electricity. But my need is just half a kilowatt. So what the department is doing is charging people according to their own calculations,” a local of Palpora, Ghulam Muhammad said.
Trying to enter the CM’s residence, women protestors demanded immediate action of the department to issue them new bills. “We will not stop protesting till the bills are reviewed,” they said.
The PDD officials, who were called to pacify the situation, arrived after almost fifteen minutes and promised to reissue their bills. Assistant Executive Engineer Power Development Department Sheikh Bagh Ghulam Qadir told the protestors that they will be given new bills in an hour. “There would be some sort of errors. We are checking them. We will just give you new bills,” he told them.
The protestors were ushered through a narrow lane down Gupkar Road but they continued to shout slogans. “If the department does not provide us new genuine bills by today we will block the highway tomorrow,” the protestors said.
The AEE told Greater Kashmir that the department will provide the locals new bills. “There has been some sort of error in making of bills. But the reality is that people are resorting to illegal means when it comes to electricity consumption. Already the department is shouldering 40-60 percent of loss,” he said.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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