Gilgit Baltistan Grapples With Prolonged Blackouts


Due to the irregular supply of power, businesses in the region, especially hotels, have been suffering…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan is facing hours-long load shedding that has compelled the locals to live a miserable life.

Daily Baad-e-Shimal, a local Urdu newspaper, said, “Gilgit-Baltistan is facing the worst electricity crisis, with Gilgit having 20 hours’ load shedding.”

It added, “People are in real trouble as no government since the past 15 years has been able to end this problem; and there are no such hopes in the near future as well.”

As the region faces intense cold during the winter season, the people have been facing immense problems due to the irregular supply of electricity.

Pamir Times, a popular newspaper from Gilgit Baltistan said in its recent report, “Remote valleys and far-flung areas are also either engulfed in darkness or rely on diesel-generators, lanterns burning Kerosene oil or natural gas, and candles.”

“Successive governments in the region have failed to develop a sustainable mechanism for power generation and distribution in the region. Knee-jerk reactions and populist rhetoric or tactics are often employed to quell the agitating masses, without addressing the deepening crisis, partly exacerbated by promotion of tourism in the region”, said Pamir Times.

Due to the irregular supply of power, businesses in the region, especially hotels, have been suffering.

Pamir Times also conducted a poll and found that 80 percent of the around 500 respondents said that their regions were suffering from upto, or over, 20 hours of load shedding.

It added, “Gilgit-Baltistan has massive potential to generate electricity from the elements of nature, including water, sunlight, and wind. The federal and regional government have failed to utilize any of these resources available in abundance in the region”.

Teachers protest

A large number of teachers, professors, staff members and students of public education institutions held a sit-in against the administration in Gilgit Baltistan.

The teachers and professors complain that their minimum wages have not been raised even after serving for many years at public educational institutions.

A woman professor who joined the protest with the other employees said, “Till now they have not given any confirmation. We are running schools and colleges; we are two contingents who are running these institutions. We just forward one representative amongst ourselves, we don’t have a (proper body) to represent our issues which is why we have been left behind. We, ladies, are (protesting), our brothers too are with us, how much they have to bear! We are with them. We will stand and protest alongside them whenever they ask us.”

Amid high inflation, when essential commodities have become more expensive than ever before, contractual employees are finding it hard to run their normal livelihoods. They lambasted the Gilgit Baltistan assembly for dropping a ‘bomb of inflation’ and hiking the salaries of ministers and officials to the tune of 600 per cent.

“If they don’t have a budget for us, they (administrators) should cut down on their needless expenses. These administrators in the assembly have increased their salaries to the tune of 600%, they should cut down on that! They should cut down on their lavishness and immorality! They are dropping the ‘bomb of inflation’ on the poor employees” said another employee.

The protestors complain that although the order to increase the minimum wage has been passed, they have not received any notification from the finance ministry of Gilgit Baltistan. The employees have highlighted the issue of increment several times in the past but the administration has remained apathetic to their issues.

A resentful protestor, highlighting the apathetic attitude of the administration, said, “The Gilgit Baltistan Finance Ministry has not yet released the notification. We have tried to hold a dialogue with them many times, and they asked us for more time, and we kept the peace, but even after five months the administration has failed to notify us. This is not a big amount, it is not a huge amount.”

Teachers in Gilgit-Baltistan have protested for several reasons, including the regularisation of jobs, for adequate salaries and non-payment of salaries. Teachers and staff at Karakoram International University have protested for non-payment of salaries, while private school teachers have protested against irregularities in the recruitment process. (ANI)

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