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July 22, 2020

Federal, Sindh govt urged to ensure water, electricity supplies for all Karachiites

Karachi

July 22, 2020

Participants of a protest organised by the Shehri Awami Mahaz (SAM) have demanded of the federal and Sindh governments to cancel the K-Electric’s privatisation, shut down the illegal hydrants operating in Karachi, and provide basic necessities of electricity and safe drinking water to the residents.

As a part of its first protest, announced by SAM, a recently formed alliance of labour, human and social rights groups in Karachi, held a protest at Singer Chowrangi in Korangi Industrial Area on Monday, where participants criticised electricity- and water-providing utilities for their failure to ensure uninterrupted supplies of the basic amenities.

SAM will organise its next protest at Sher Shah Chowk in District West today afternoon. Zehra Khan and Rehmat Ali, two known trade union leaders, led a large number of protesters, including people from labour settlements. Protesters held banners and placards against power outages and water theft and were chanting slogans against the electric and water mafia.

Rehmat Ali said the city’s first major problem at the moment was a shortage of drinking water. “Factories in the industrial area of Korangi have taken hundreds of illegal connections from the water lines laid for the residents of Karachi’s suburbs, especially Sharafi Goth, which is severely affecting the water supply to these residential areas,” he said, adding that the elected representatives of the city had not solved the problem for their own benefit. Their attitude towards the people was very humiliating while the factory owners also threatened in case of a complaint or a protest against the theft of water, he said.

Comrade Gul Rehman, chairperson of the Workers Rights Movement, said another major problem of these areas was unannounced load-shedding of electricity. “Workers in these areas didn’t have electricity for 10 to 12 hours due to which people are suffering from mental anguish and have lost their jobs.”

Khan, who is the general secretary of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation, said that under a well-thought-out plan, the working-class settlements were being deprived of electricity and water.

Shabbir Khaskheli, leader of Chashma Goth Welfare Society, said water lines in Chashma Goth and other areas had been laid, but water was not flowing mainly due to illegal connections to the main water pipeline. He said there were hundreds of buffalo pens near the main water line which had hundreds of illegal connections that prevented water from reaching residential areas.

Abdul Basit Jagrani, a leader of Textile Garment, General Workers Union, said that despite severe load-shedding, complaints of overbilling were common. At a time when unemployment was at an alarming stage, the rise in electricity prices spoke volumes about the indifference of the rulers.