Meaningful relief for masses


TWO developments that took place on Wednesday have the potential to mitigate sufferings of the people and pro
vide them with much needed relief if Prime Minister Imran Khan ensures their follow up in letter and spirit. The PM took strong notice of corrupt practices at check posts established on major highways of the country and directed the authorities concerned to reduce their number and strengthen supervisory role. And at a meeting, he was further apprised that a pilot project under LESCO had been started making the process for new power connection easier, enabling the consumers to calculate the used power price, apprising the consumers about the power price, timely information about the load shedding and online bill payment facilities.
Check-posts are established by law-enforcing and other agencies to check smuggling and illegal movement of goods and suspicious elements but it has been observed that most of them indulge in practices that do not even fall within their purview just to mint money from the people. The extortion creates inconvenience for the public, corrupts the society, leads to increased cost of transportation of goods, which ultimately is passed on to the end consumer and brings bad name to the country as tourists and foreigners too are harassed. Establishment of check-posts itself is a serious impediment to free movement of people but misuse of authority and teasing of ordinary citizens have their own implications. In some cases, officials posted at these check-posts involve themselves in dacoities and highway robberies. The Prime Minister has, therefore, done well to pass on instructions for reduction of check-posts and strengthening of supervision. He has also warned to take action against the top hierarchy of different institutions if the practice of extortion by their staff at these check-posts does not come to an end within a month. While appreciating the move of the Prime Minister, we would urge him to take similar notice of check-posts established within and outside major cities and towns as well. The practice of extortion that the Prime Minister has highlighted is also rampant at these check-posts and this is happening right under the nose of the Federal Government in Islamabad and the twin city of Rawalpindi. Vehicles especially those transporting vegetables, fruit and other goods as well as household goods are stopped at these points and are not allowed moving without palm-greasing the officials deployed there.
This misuse of authority needs to be checked and police high-ups should be made answerable for such-wrong-doings. As for improvement in the power sector, one must appreciate the interest being taken and efforts made by Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan. The strategy adopted by him has started paying dividends as the instances of theft have minimized and there are also less power interruptions. Thanks to the focus of the previous government on energy generation, the target for transmission of 23,000 MW of electricity was achieved for the first time in the country’s history and generation is going to increase further in the next year. All this should lead to total elimination of the menace of load-shedding but realization of the objective seems to be impossibility as the existing transmission and distribution system was not strong enough to sustain the pressure of increased generation and its transmission to the end consumer. As the Government did not need to bother about generation issue, it should, therefore, concentrate and invest on improvement of transmission and distribution system. For this purpose, major population centres and industrial and commercial hubs should be the priority. Instead of repeating the gimmicks of changing meters every now and then on the plea of performance improvement, worn out cables should be changed and inefficient transformers should be replaced with new and better ones that are used in other countries of the world. Similarly, there seems to be no focus on checking corrupt practices in discos where there is no concept of provision of new connection without illegal gratification and there are allegations that the booty is shared by high-ups as well. The Government claims a pilot project has been initiated in LESCO to streamline new connections and resolve problems of the consumers in an efficient manner and after its success this would be replicated in rest of the country. Let us see whether or not this is beginning of a real change in the power sector.