Gilgit-Baltistan hit hard by harsh winters and widespread power failures

GILGIT/SKARDU: The Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan’s north is hit hard by continued power failures, crippling life and economy, as harsh winter makes life hard.

Groups of citizens have come to the roads in different parts of the region raising slogans against the administration and elected leaders, and protesting the regional government and the state’s failure to ensure supply of electricity in the region.

Protesters in Skardu, Astore, Yasin Valley (Ghizer) and Gilgit, among other districts, have expressed anger and resentment against the incumbent and past governments for constantly failing to generate and supply electricity.

Speakers in Skardu protested carrying lanterns lit by Kerosene oil, symbolically showing the power crisis in the region.

Gilgit-Baltistan region is home to not more than 2 million people living in sparsely populated and remote valleys and villages. Enery crisis has always been an issue in the region despite of its immense potential to generate clean electricity. The situation gets worst during winters as people tend to use electricity for heating, cooking and other houshold choirs.

Responding to the growing protests, a “high level meeting was recently held to calibrate the magnitude of energy crisis in Gilgit-Baltistan and performance review of measures being taken by government departments and district administrations”, according to a report released by the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), a government-run news agency.

During the meeting, the Power and Works Department reportedly said that the energy shortfall in Gilgit-Baltistan is going to be around 180MW during the winters, blaming the “imbalance” on increase in demand and decrease in hydel generation due to cold weather.

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