GILGIT (ET): The extended power outages in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) are a violation of basic human rights, said the local chapter of International Human Rights Observer (IHRO) on Sunday.
The organisation called for widespread protests to depose “the corrupt and inept officials responsible for the power mess”.
In a press release, the IHRO urged all citizens to demand that the government hand over the affairs of the water and power departments to a foreign company capable of delivering these services in the resource-rich region.
The statement was issued in response to a continuous 22-hour-long power outage in the region’s capital city, IHRO Gilgit Coordinator Muhammad Farooq told The Express Tribune.
He said the capital city has experienced the worst load shedding this winter, starting from November, with power being available for no more than three to four hours in a day.
The reduced water storage capacity of Naltar, the region’s main water reservoir, further deteriorated the situation as it reduced the power generation capacity by 18 megawatts, he added.
The power crisis has severely affected education in the region and worsened unemployment, as small industries are forced to downsize to cope with losses incurred due to the power outages.
Farooq said the region has the potential to generate more than 50,000 megawatt of electricity from its natural resources.
Law, Water and Power Minister Wazir Shakil said the situation will improve in the near future when the 37 ongoing hydro-power projects in the region are completed.
He said that the power crisis worsened this year due to the colder than average winter — to stay warm, people substantially increased their power consumption. At the same time, production capacity decreased due to shortage of water.
On Friday, the IHRO presented a human rights violation report to the chief judge of the G-B Supreme Appellate Court, requesting action against those responsible for the power crisis, which has adversely impacted the region’s already fragile economy.
Citing power shortage and rise in the price of wheat price as the two main problems of the people of G-B, the report said that the people are being deprived of basic necessities of life