IESCO cuts power to 200 tube wells

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RAWALPIDI:

Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (IESCO) on Tuesday cut off the power supply to 20 Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) tube wells in Rawalpindi due to non-payment of dues unpaid bills worth several million rupees.

After the disconnection of the power supply from the tube wells, a water crisis took hold in various areas of the garrison town amid sweltering temperatures.

WASA’s financial difficulties have worsened amid a stagnant and negligible tariff on water bills for domestic consumers. WASA has been charging a fixed amount of Rs 98 as a water bill for a house built on a five marla plot for 13 years, which has strained its revenue amid rising electricity costs and other expenses.

Sources said WASA has been unable to pay electricity bills worth millions of rupees in the absence of a mechanism to raise the tariff on domestic water bills.

The sources said either WASA should be allowed to raise the tariff for domestic consumers or a bailout should be announced to pull it out of the current financial crisis.

According to WASA sources, following the non-payment of electricity bills for 400 tubewells by the WASA administration, ISCO initially cut off the power supply to 20 tubewells.

Residents of affected areas, where water supplies from tube wells had been cut off for more than 48 hours, warned to stage protests if water supplies and electricity were not restored.

Citizens said they were facing problems obtaining water for domestic use, which caused them severe distress.

On the other hand, WASA officials have briefed the Punjab government on the increasing financial difficulties of the civic agency in the presence of the 13-year-old tariff scheme. Officials requested immediate financial assistance so that WASA could run its affairs smoothly.

WASA sources have said that unless the tariff is raised or the Punjab government announces an immediate bailout, WASA will not be able to recover from the worst financial crisis.

According to WASA sources, the cost of electricity was 6 rupees per unit in 2009 and today it is 30 rupees per unit, but WASA continues to charge the same tariff at the rate of 98 rupees to domestic consumers .

WASA officials said expenses, including staff salaries, had increased while its revenue was static due to the negligible tariff. They said the revised tariff of Rs300 must be implemented for domestic consumers if WASA is to emerge from the financial crisis.

Published in L’Express Tribune, May 11and2022.


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