A Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lawmaker affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf along with his supporters stormed three grid stations on Friday and forcibly resumed power supply to areas affected by extended and unannounced power outages.
Later in the evening, Yakatoot police registered an FIR against MPA Fazal Elahi for attacking and illegally occupying government property and interfering with the operations of the grid stations.
An official of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) told Dawn that Mr Elahi, from the PK-6 constituency of the provincial capital and accompanied by dozens of his supporters, came to the Hazarkhawni, Kohat Road Industrial Estate and Taj Abad grid stations and tinkered with the power distribution systems there.
“Mr Elahi and his supporters tried to operate the power supply and distribution system,” the official said, adding that the Pesco staffers did not resist as it could have resulted in a loss of lives. After operating the system to restore power supply to certain areas, the MPA left behind some of his supporters at a grid station and moved on to the next one. The official said Mr Elahi’s supporters were present on the premises of the grid station till the filing of the report.
“They restored power supply to feeders to which electricity supply had been suspended by the Pesco staff,” he said, adding that no one was allowed to take the law into their own hands.
Sources told Dawn that Mr Elahi had first entered the Hazarkhani grid station along with over 100 supporters and restored power supply to Akhund Abad, Yakatoot and Hazarkhawni feeders. They stayed at the station for about four hours and then moved to the Taj Abad and Kohat Road grid stations where they restored power supply to certain feeders which had been facing power outages for some time.
A video circulating on many WhatsApp groups shows Mr Elahi entering a grid station with his supporters and tinkering with buttons on panels handling the distribution system.
Talking to reporters, Mr Elahi said two days ago Pesco had struck a deal with them under which they had agreed to reduce the duration of power outages in their area to eight hours a day. “We removed kundas (hook connections) from the area and are paying bills.”
He said, however, Pesco reneged on its initial promise after which they were forced to enter grid stations and take matters into their own hands. He said they would not allow power outages lasting more than eight hours during Ramazan.
Mr Elahi said they had not forcibly taken over the grid stations, they were just demanding their rights.
Junaid Khan, a resident of Kohat Road, told Dawn that power outages in areas along Kohat Road could go up to 16 hours a day. “On Thursday, electricity supply remained suspended from 7am to 3pm at a stretch,” he said.
A statement issued by Pesco said that power losses exceeded 70 per cent in Hazarkhawni and its neighbouring areas. It said due to Ramazan, Pesco had reduced power outages in these areas to 16 hours a day. It said in addition to this, Pesco would also try to keep power outages to a minimum during Sehr and Iftar timings.
It asked residents of the area to remove kundas and cooperate with the company to ensure interrupted power supply.
The PTI-led government in KP and Pesco have been at daggers drawn since the party came to power in the province. Earlier on May 17, PTI parliamentarians and supporters had stormed the Pesco headquarters to protest against power outages.