Week-long protest will begin from Monday; Sit-in to be staged outside K-Electric Head office after Eid
Shehri Awami Mahaz leaders demand handing over K-Electric to democratic people and closing of over 100 illegal hydrants
Karachi: The people of Karachi have demand that K-Electric’s privatization should be cancelled and be placed under democratic control of the citizens, and more than 100 illegal hydrants be shut down immediately so that the citizens have access to basic amenities like electricity and water.
“The power and water mafia has taken 20 million citizens of Karachi hostage. Water scarcity and power outages have left the citizens suffering from mental and physical ailments,” said representatives of various civil society organizations who have formed Shahri Awami Mahaz (SAM) to jointly struggle for resolving the issues.
Addressing the joint press conference on Saturday, Nasir Mansoor, Secretary General National Trade Union Federation said that Karachi has been suffering from the inflicted punishment of two big mafias since long, these mafias have the blessings of major political parties and powerful circles.
He said that privatization of KESC in 2005 was in fact a fraudulent deal. General Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz and Karachi’s fake representatives were directly involved in this robbery.
The company, whose shares were valued at Rs.9/- per share at the time of privatization, was sold for Rs.1.60, causing a loss of more than Rs.70 billion to the exchequer. This major power company was sold for only Rs.15.8 billion. Today, the same company was trying to escape by selling it to Shanghai Electric for Rs.290 billion.
“Despite handing over KESC to a private company, the government was giving it an annual subsidy of Rs.41 billion. So far, the state has given more than Rs.600 billion in subsidies to the K-Electric,” he said.
He said that despite electricity load shedding, K-Electric is fleecing the citizens through overbilling making them mentally ill. Through the same criminal method, “K – Electric” had made a profit of more than Rs.17 billion this year, which was forty per cent more than the previous year. Despite the protests of the people, the present government had allowed K- Electric to increase the tariffs in phases. Recently, the K Electric increased the tariff of electricity by Rs.2.8 per unit.
Comrade Gul Rahman, Convener Workers Rights Movement said that K Electric had installed meters that were faulty and were not in conformity to international standards. The government, NAB and NEPRA had given K Electric a free hand of lawlessness and arbitrariness because its owner Arif Naqvi was considered one of the closest friends of the current ruling oligarchy. He had provided huge funds to the party in power to run election campaign. And the current ruling thug gang has emerged as a backbone of the flour, sugar, petrol, construction and energy mafia. It can be said that today this country was truly ruled by the Sicilian Mafia.
He further said that the K Electric’s role can be gauged from the fact that it owes Rs.90 billion to Sui Southern Gas Company and Rs.35 billion to National Transmission Company but refuses to pay the hefty amount. And no institution in the country had the power to get the money from K Electric.
Khaliq Zadran, Chairperson Liyari Awami Mahaz said that like K Electric, the water mafia had made the lives of the citizens of Karachi worsened than hell. Out of the one thousand million gallons required for the city, only five hundred and fifty million gallons of water are supplied to the city daily, of which more than forty percent is stolen or wasted. Thirty-five percent of Karachi’s citizens, or nine million to ten million, were deprived of basic necessities like water. Every third person in Karachi was either suffering from water shortage or was not getting water at all. According to international standards, every citizen must be provided fifty gallons of water per day.
Zehra Khan, General Secretary of Home Based Women Workers Federation said that at present, more than 100 illegal hydrants were earning Rs.90 billion annually by selling people’s share of water to the citizens. These tanker mafias were endangering the urban environment and health by pumping 150 million to 150 million gallons of water underground daily. Currently the water tanker mafia was making more money than the drug mafia.
Nisha Rao, President TransGender Rights Society said that unfortunately, the provincial and the federal governments were constantly showing a lack of seriousness in resolving Karachi’s problems. The mayor of Karachi has went underground in time of severe power and water crisis; he needs to be declared missing, while the attitude of the Sindh government and the federal government was also reprehensible, which had left the citizens of Karachi at the mercy of the mafia. .
Aqib Hussain, President National Youth Committee said that at a time when all parties had left citizens at the mercy of the mafia, it had become imperative for the people to organize themselves to achieve their basic rights as a real alternative. The formation of the “Shahri Awami Mahaz (SAM)” was the first step in this direction. The Mahaz had decided to fight to save the citizens of Karachi from electricity, water and other mafias. In this regard, from July 20 there will be a week-long protest against the unavailability of water & electricity in six districts of Karachi. A public sit-in will be held at the headquarters of electricity and water supply companies immediately after Eid.
Abdul Rehman Baloch (Shah Mir Welfare Trust, Old Golimar), Rehmat Ali (Anjuma-e- Falah-o-Bahbood), Sharif Baloch (Baloch Welfare), Faisal Imran (Youth Club of Courage), Muhammad Ishaq Usman (Muslim Kachhi Kumhar Wara Jamaat, Baldia), Amir Iqbal (Human Rights Activist), Comrade Zubair Rehman (intellectual and Columnist), Saira Feroze (United Home Based Garment Workers Union), Aftab Hussain (Madina Colony Welfare Committee), Abdul Basit (Textile Garments General Workers Union) and representatives of other organizations were present.