|Punjab CM sets up camp office at Minar-e-Pakistan|
02 June 2012
LAHORE– Adopting a unique method to record protest and expressing solidarity with the people of Punjab over the chronic power cuts, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has set up his camp office at Minare Pakistan in Iqbal Park where he and other ministers of his cabinet and the officials discharged business on Friday.
The chief minister has initially announced to hold protest camp for 10 days while the period may be extended subject to acceptance of the demand to treat people of the Punjab at par with other provinces regarding load management, the sources say.
They say the Punjab government has a pipeline plan to ban use of air conditioners at public departments where its use already stands curtailed by three hours daily. However, strict observance of this restriction is a big question. Shahbaz also held a sitting at the camps along with his secretariat staff wearing black band on their arms as a mark of protest against what he mostly says, Federal government’s step-motherly treatment to Punjab by providing lesser amount of electricity to the province as compared to other provinces due to which industry and the domestic life has been badly hit.
The present protest camp has been set up with tents and a covering, totally in marked contrast to the other lavish and grand offices particularly at Chief Minister’s Secretariat, 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Punjab Secretariat, and at Punjab Assembly.
The Punjab government is aggrieved that due to short supply of electricity and a discriminatory treatment, the province has suffered an economic loss up to Rs400billion and cancellation of textile and other import orders to the tune of $one billion. Besides writing to the Federal government to address the situation, Punjab also hosted an energy conference in Lahore in April last which was presided over by Prime Minister Gilani. It was decided at the conference that loadshedding hours will equally be distributed among all the four provinces.
But the commitment could not be fulfilled partly due to political reasons after guilty verdict against the prime minister by the SC and partly of the fact that circular debts were not discharged nor the IPPs were paid to generate adequate electricity. The situation in Punjab at present is alarming with domestic side facing power cuts upto 20 hours and industrial sector closing down business at a large scale rendering lakhs of people jobless forcing them to agitate on streets and roads. The CM has set up this camp to remind the rulers of their duties and a grim situation faced by the public and the province.
Talking to the media at the Park, Shahbaz depicted a painful picture of the economy and people owing to loadshedding.
“Due to the present situation, masses are struggling to survive and earn their livelihood. Ali Baba and 40 thieves have completely destroyed the national economy,” he said alluding to the Federal government. He said they were sitting under Minar-e-Pakistan to highlight miseries of the people, who could not sleep at night for they didn’t have electricity and no water even to take bath. Shahbaz said on Friday people could not perform ablution to say prayers because there was no water available due to the ongoing energy crisis.
He said he could suggest a solution to overcome power crisis. “Meet Rs 400 billion circular debt by bringing back the plundered money deposited in Swiss courts,” he said adding, govt should recover the money swindled in NRO cases, the NICL land scam, the rental power cases, the Hajj scam and end the lavish spending in to overcome the power crisis.
The CM said Punjab was being denied 700MW share of electricity, which should immediately be provided. The chief minister at the camp office also held a meeting with the high-ups of the Wasa who informed the CM about the generators taken on rent for three hours per day to supply water to the citizens.
However, they said, the loadshedding hours were too long to operate the generators. The CM directed the officials to get the generators on rent for the whole day so that the citizens could get continuous water supply.
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