BARA: Struggling to cope with the situation, the owners of the silk power looms here on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to solve their problems.
They said the owners had been facing problems for the last several years.
The owners said the power looms had stopped working since long due to militancy and military operations.
Talking to The News, power looms chairman Raza Khan Afridi said that the power looms were established about 40 years ago.
“At least 100 power looms were established before militancy in Bara whereas about 1,000 people earned the livelihood for their families,” he said, adding now at least 35 power looms were functioning in Bara but the others were closed down due to excessive loadshedding and other problems.
He said the power looms had been facing problems when the erstwhile Fata was merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where many factories were already closed down.
“Many factories have been closed down and others are facing closure due to excessive loadshedding,” Raza maintained, adding all the factories were shifted to Punjab while thousands of tribal people became jobless.
He said tribesmen had already suffered as their businesses and markets destroyed. He said that the bazaars and other infrastructure were also damaged due to militancy.
The chairman said the power looms owners met the Tribal Electric Supply Company (Tesco) chief and discussed with him the installation their own feeder. He added that they had installed own feeder in gridstation but it did not solve their problems. “At least 15 hours electricity is being provided to power looms and we face nine hours loadshedding that bring the factories to a halt,” he said, adding the other power looms wanted to shift to other provinces due to loadshedding. He claimed the owners of power looms paid electricity bills regularly.
President and owner of another power loom, Wali Khan Afridi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced concession in power tariff for the textile industries and power looms in Punjab.
He said the textile industries in Punjab were being provided electricity at concessional rates but the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government did not announce any such concession for the power looms factories in Bara which was a great injustice with the local people as they had faced long years of joblessness due to militancy.
“We are living in erstwhile Fata. We have already suffered prolonged militancy,” he complained, urging the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to extend assistance to the power looms and textiles in Bara.
He said the government should announce concessional rates and provide 24-hour electricity to the Bara power looms where thousands of people earned the livelihood for families.
“About 1,000 poor tribespeople are working in power looms and earning the livelihood for families,” Wali said, adding if the factories were closed or shifted to other provinces the tribespeople would face more problems such as joblessness.
He believed the power loom factories also helped curbed militancy in the area.
“Many former militants, who had surrendered to the security forces, were later provided jobs after being trained at the De-radicalisation Centre (DRC) in Bara,” he added.
“We bring the raw material from Punjab and again send our products to Punjab after preparation but want to rehabilitate for the people of Bara and provide job to the locals,” he vowed, adding, if the power looms were shifted to Punjab it would create problems for the tribespeople, who have limited job opportunities.
Another owner, Sajid Khan Afridi, said that the Bara power looms faced several problems when the militancy was at its peak. He said many power looms were shut down and pieces of machinery rusted due to a prolonged shutdown.