Muzaffarabad [PoK], February 13 (ANI): The people and traders in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for a long time have been suffering from severe power cuts and extremely overpriced electricity bills. The issue has been affecting all sections of society as the people who already suffer from rapidly rising inflation in Pakistan now have to pay high prices for merely hours' worth of electricity.

While raising the issue of severe power cuts, a businessman from PoK, Abdul Razzaq Khan, said that "recently, when the traders of PoK met with Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, a demand for allotting 400 megawatts of electricity to the people of PoK was raised. We had pleaded with him to provide us the bare minimum requirement of the people of PoK."

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"Even today we face load shedding because the electricity is extremely overpriced. Our land produces around 2,500 to 3,000 megawatts of hydroelectric electricity and supplies it to the Centre. But when we receive electricity back from the Centre, it is produced from coal and fossil fuels, which are overpriced and heavily taxed. And we are forced to pay more," he added.

While explaining the severity of the situation, Khan also added that the people of PoK heavily rely on the resources provided by the Centre, as the opportunities for raising employment in the area are very limited. "The people here are not rich as they do not own factories, and they are merely small traders. And a major source of our income is the money sent from our overseas relatives. And sometimes these allowances from overseas relatives are the only source of revenue for some families here.

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Khan also said, "We small traders have been paying for electricity for a long time, and yet we face load shedding. In 2015, we protested regarding this issue, by fasting until death, and we were about to die at that time. But I see that these issues are persisting and the conditions are not getting better. And the people of PoK keep protesting against this issue from time to time."

He further said, "We had suggested to the government that if the people are allowed to use electricity produced by the dams in PoK, it will be much cheaper and easier for them. I pay about ten thousand Pakistani rupees in electricity bills, it is a major part of my income. This is when we use the least electricity. We have asked the government to give us free electricity, as the majority of the people in this area are barely surviving. As the business is also suffering."

The government had built the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant project here, but no water treatment plant was built with it. The entire project had become a centre for corruption, and now it is nothing more than a dump yard. (ANI)

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