Friday, August 7, 2009

Karachi Illegal Electricity System & Political Parties by Nadia Khan

PAKISTAN: Karachi Illegal Electricity System & Political Parties


By Nadia Khan (from Karachi)


I have parked the car near a roadside shop in one of the most famous vicinity of Karachi, called North Karachi, formerly it was known as New Karachi. I was trying to understand as how electricity is being theft & the most famous Kunda system functioning in Karachi. The whole area appeared to be quite congested, thin lanes where cars couldn't enter, the road outside small houses were not even 40 feet, and interesting to know is that Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) electric poles were so close to house galleries that you could touch the wires, if you like. Then by using a rubber glove you could connect the light from the pole itself using a Kunda without taking the connection through to regular electric meter provided by KESC.


That's the beginning of Kundas system – a way to get electricity illegally and hence without paying any bills or charges at the end of the month.


Karachi is having five such large vicinities starting from Lasbela till Surjani Town where more than 2 million people live. So be it Golimar congested lanes or Liaquatabad area, or New Karachi till Surjani Town, or the large area of Malir or Orangi Town district every where a vast majority of residents is using Kunda system – means electricity illegally. With a careful calculation, approximately 40% of electricity is being theft in Karachi only by "poor" residents.


Beside residents, number of commercial organisations pay an under-hand amount to KESC area lineman and get their factories connected with main power stream illegally. The reason is quite obvious – free electricity, no bills, no hassle to go to KESC office for regular connection & long waiting even in some cases it takes a year or so to get authorized connection legally or simply to pay commercial tariffs.


"There's another technique to run the electric meter in reverse direction, so the more electricity you consume, bill will be less as meter is counting in reverse order," says Ahmed Siqqidui, a local resident of Malir district. "There are other means & ways, probably taught by KESC linemen or Pakistani janta is quite sharp in inventing illegal ways, to stop the electric meters," says Razi Bano of Orangi Town.


Beside this poor class and commercial organization owners, the feud-political elite class is also involved in electricity theft as & when needed. So when Khursheed Shah federal minister resides in Karachi, when arranged the marriage ceremony of his son, all the street lights of his area including his villa remain powered up –even during day time- for 10 days. Obviously the connection wasn't legal and famous Kunda system was used for this theft. I have been told that it is a common practice that for marriage ceremonies most of the electricity is used directly from the poles – with no meter & no bill.


Since the departure of Musharraf, the residents of Karachi are suffering from electricity shortage. During some occasions, there's no electricity for even 17 hours continuously in a day.


Mutahidda Qoumi Movement (MQM) claims itself as the sole representative of Karachi and winning all types of elections – local bodies, provincial and national assemblies' since 1988. Over 20 years, none of their member has raised concerns about Kunda system of theft of electricity. One of the reason, as their constituencies are mostly in those five vicinities of Karachi, so they can't take risk of losing the election if they come out with plan to remove all Kunda systems. There will be –most likely- people resentments if there would be crack down against all illegal electricity connections.


Until very recently, when the ship of KESC was about to sink, they came out with an idea to acquire Fatwa (religious decree) against electricity theft but somehow it didn't gain momentum in mass as it appears that there are dual standards. Elite or political class will not be charged against any crime, including slighter electric theft, but charges will be imposed on poor's without any notification. That has witnessed that whole society is marching towards mass-corruption and when it comes to personal gains no one care any moral values.


There are other political parties active in Karachi such as PPP in Leyaari district or a powerful group of Awami National Party (ANP) presence is there in areas such as Sohrab Goth or Banaras or Lasbela areas but the question remains same – none of the political figures have this much courage to ask masses to avoid electricity theft. Likely, this could be asked by someone whom himself is not indulged in such commercial crimes, but none. This paints the very grim portrait of Pakistani society – where the majority is moving towards larger corruption.


Either it is a rickshaw driver, or a fruit seller, or political activist of MQM, or interior minister, or the President of Pakistan – all are dependent upon National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) otherwise all type of crimes they committed, in past, are always there for their opponents' to implicate each other!

1 comment:

Sara said...

I always said, We have souces, talent but not leaders and planner.

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