Growers Block highways in Balochistan
QUETTA, June 5 (Online): Incensed growers on Thursday blocked all national highways in Balochistan in protest against unannounced lengthy power outages and a significant cut in subsidy on power tariff.
Balochistan Zamindar Action Committee (BZAC) activists blocked Quetta-Chaman, Quetta-Taftan, Quetta-Jacobabad and Quetta-Karachi highways.
Traffic between Balochistan and other parts of the country, as well as neighbouring countries i.e. Iran and Afghanistan remained suspended.
“Power outages destroyed our standing crops and orchards. We will continue our protest until proper power supply is resumed," Haji Abdul Rehman Bazai, Chairman BZAC told a private TV channel.
Protestors were also demanding that the government resume the subsidiary on power tariff to growers in Balochistan.
Passengers, especially the aged, women and children were the worst sufferers of the growers’ blockade.
Long queues of trucks and other small vehicles could be witnessed in Kuchlak, located some 25 kilometres northwest of Quetta.
"I have been waiting since morning for the road to open," said Mudeer Ahmed, a truck driver from Kuchlak.
State Minister for Power Abid Sher Ali had revealed during his recent visit to Quetta that an amount of Rs 85 billion was outstanding against growers’ community in Balcohistan. However, Bazai said that before demanding payment from growers, Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) should provide electricity.
Like other parts of the country, Balochistan is also energy starved. The province needs 1500 mega watt of power supply but the Qesco is not provided with more than 600 mega watt. More than 18 hours of load-shedding is being observed in remote areas of the province. Scorching heat coupled with unannounced power cuts has multiplied the miseries of dwellers and farmers.
The federal and provincial governments and Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) have been providing subsidy worth billions of rupees to the growers’ community in Balochistan for the last decade and the growers were only bound to pay Rs 6000 per tube-well on a monthly basis in the province.
However, the federal government has halved the subsidy of agri-consumers in Balochistan in the 2014-15 budget and the Wapda has completely withdrawn the subsidy.