Gilgit-Baltistan govt reduces hospital registration fee to 5 rupees

Skardu: General Secretary of MWM addressing the protesters . Photo: Raza Qaisar
Skardu: General Secretary of MWM addressing the protesters . Photo: Raza Qaisar

Gilgit, April 19: The government of Gilgit-Baltistan has reduced the fee being charged from every patient to 5 rupees, partially fulfilling one of the demands of the Awami Action Committee.

According to a notification read at the strike, the government has reduced the registration fee by five rupees. Complete abolition of the fee was one of the demands of AAC.

The issue of restoring subsidy on the price of wheat remains pending, however. The Gilgit-Baltistan government is expected to write a summary and submit it to the office of the Prime Minister for approval. The price of wheat has increased from 800 rupees to around 1600 in a short span of time. On public demand, the GB government had said that the price would be lowered to 1400 rupees per 40 kilograms of grains but the Awami Action Committee has been demanding of complete restoration of the wheat subsidy.

The GB government authorities are of the view that because of increase in fuel price and the subsequent rise in the cost of transportation, the price of wheat cannot be kept stagnant. The GB government is incurring huge financial losses due to the subsidy on wheat, officials have said in the past.

On the contrary, the protesters are saying that the ministers, advisers and the MLAs are spending millions of rupees on their luxuries and protocols and the graph of corruption in Gilgit-Baltistan has shot up during the last four years, while the poor masses are being deprived of basic amenities in the name of cost control and budget deficit.

“The little-known and loosely organize Awami Action Committee has been able to mobilized support because of the abysmal performance of the PPP-led coalition government in the region”, said Ahmad Shah, who is an independent public policy expert based in the federal capital.

Meanwhile, the strike in all districts is underway at small and large levels, with thousands of people staging sit-ins on roads and in markets. The traffic on Karakuram Highway was suspended today because protesters had blocked the road with boulders and almost had a scuffle with the law enforcing officials.

A huge sit-in continued in the Yadgar Chowk Skardu on the fifth day also and there are reports of people from Kharmang and other remote areas joining the protesters in hundreds. The sit-in camp in Gilgit has also been increasingly attracting more public attention. Small rallies and sit-ins are also being held Ghizar and Hunza-Nagar.

Traffic in Gilgit and Skardu has hit the roads again while the markets are also opening. Strict security measures remain in place throughout the region.

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