The tension between the Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) and tube-well consumers intensified as a team of the company that went to Gardezi More for disconnecting connections of the defaulters was held hostage by an enraged mob just after a crackdown announcement by Mepco Chief Executive Shakil Chaudhry.
The farmers were instigated by PML-N and Tehrik-i-Insaf leaders who asked them not to pay bills of more than one billion rupees because these were inflated and unjust. Shakil Chaudhry claimed in a press conference that the tube-well consumers owed Mepco Rs1.30 billion and an operation was launched against them. While on the other hand, the growers alleged that each tube-well consumer was sent electricity bill with at least 3,000 additional units.
“We will not pay the bill until the company rectify the inflated bills. We request the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of excessive billing and save the agriculture sector from total collapse,” demanded a grower Muhammad Ramazan while talking to journalists.
The Chief Executive claimed that only tube-well consumers in Mumtazabad and Taunsa divisions were not paying their bills for the last three months. “The defaulters in Mumtazabad division have to pay Rs1100 million while the staff of Taunsa sub-division is held hostage for the last many days,” he disclosed. He said that Mepco was left no other option but to launch operation against the defaulters. He warned that aggression against Mepco staff would not be tolerated and stern action would be taken against the ‘outlaws’.
He said that the company’s loss had soared to Rs4bn because of non-payment of dues by the defaulters. He added that the Mepco wanted to supply electricity to the consumers but it would be supplied to only those who paid their bills regularly.
He claimed that despite dialogue and endeavours, a few hundred people were not ready to pay their bills and therefore the Mepco resorted to last option of cutting off their connections. Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers made a Mepco team hostage led by executive engineer Mumtazabad division Javed Iqbal Vance at Gardezi More area and refused to let the team go till restoration of their power supply.
The team had visited the area to disconnect the meters of defaulters. Later on, police intervened and the enraged mob dispersed and got restored their power supply. Neither higher police officers nor district administration lent ear to the hue and cry of the Mepco employees and said that they had created law and order situation by disconnecting their power supply.