The people will not tolerate the unavailability of water and electricity for long, the only way to get rid of the electricity and water mafia is the people’s struggle (Shehri Awami Mahaz protest).
Press release 20th July, Khi. A protest against the non-supply of water and electricity was held at Indus (Singer) Chowrangi, Korangi Industrial Area on the appeal of Shahri Awami Mahaz . The demonstration was led by Zehra Akbar and Rehmat Ali and attended by a large number of people from labor settlements and other localities. Protesters held banners and placards against power outages and water theft. And they were chanting slogans against the electric and water mafia.
Addressing the protesters, Rehmat Ali, leader of Shahri Awami Mahaz, said the city’s first major problem at the moment was drinking water. Factories in the industrial area of Korangi have taken hundreds of illegal connections to the water lines laid for the residents of Karachi’s suburbs, especially Sharafi Goth, which is severely affecting the water supply to these residential areas.
While the elected representatives of the city did not solve this basic water problem for their own benefit for long. Their attitude towards the people was very humiliating while the factory owners also threaten in case of a complaint or protest against the theft of water.
Comrade Gul Rehman, Chairperson Workers Rights Movement said that another major problem of these areas was unannounced load shedding of electricity. Workers in these areas didn’t have electricity for 10 to 12 hours due to which people were suffering from mental anguish and have lost their jobs.
Zehra Akbar Khan, general secretary of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation and leader of the Mahaz, said that under a well-thought-out plan, the working-class settlements were being deprived of electricity and water. K Electric has failed to deliver on its promise to supply electricity to the residents of the country’s largest industrial city, despite receiving state subsidies of Rs 600 billion since it privatization in 2005 and profits of Rs 17 billion annually. This proves that the process of privatization of public institutions was a complete failure and harmful to the well-being of the citizens.
Shabbir Khaskheli, leader of Chashma Goth Welfare Society, said that water lines in Chashma Goth and other areas have been laid but water is not flowing mainly due to illegal connections to the main water line.
He added that there were hundreds of buffalo herds near the main water line which had hundreds of illegal connections that prevent water from reaching residential areas. The people of the area are thirsty for a drop of water. The residents of the area were mostly poor laborers. Due to poverty they couldn’t buy water so the women and children of these areas were forced to ask for water from water tankers passing through the area.
He lamented that the rainy nallahs of the area had not been repaired for many years due to which all the rainwater from the nearby hilly area enters the streets and houses of the people of Chashma Goth which played havoc with their lives.
Abdul Basit Jagrani, General Secretary, Textile Garment, General Workers Union, said that despite severe load shedding, complaints of over-billing were common. At a time when unemployment was at an alarming stage, the rise in electricity prices speaks volumes about the indifference of the ruling thighs. Lack of timely supply of electricity and water had made the lives of the workers miserable. The constant crisis of water and electricity had left the citizens suffering from mental and physical ailments.
Protesters demanded that the privatization of K-Electric is canceled, that its administration be placed under the democratic control of the citizens, that power outages be stopped immediately, that over-billing be stopped, and that the extra money should be returned, fair distribution of water should be ensured, industrial establishments involved in water theft should be punished according to law and all illegal water connections should be removed, all hydrants should be shut down and tanker mafia should be punished.
The next protest demo of Shehri Awami Mahaz will be held on Tuesday, July 21 at 4.30 pm at Sher Shah Chowk, SITE, West Karachi
Among those who addressed the protest were Himmat Phulpoto of Sindh Sajag Mazdoor Federation, Columnist Aslam Khokhar, Qazi Khizar, human right activist, Abdul Basit of Textile General Workers Union, Abdul Rahman worker leader from Sharifi Goth, Shabbir political activist and Akber from Malir Stars.