JI to challenge past govts’ deals with IPPs in Supreme Court

Sirajul Haq blames agreements made by past govts with independent power producers for recent hike in electricity bills

LAHORE   -  Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq on Sunday blamed agree­ments made by past govern­ments with independent power producers (IPPs) for the recent hike in electricity bills and an­nounced that his party would be approaching the Supreme Court against the deals.

Last month, the power regula­tor raised the national average tariff by around Rs5 per unit, pushing the base unit power tariff from Rs24.82 to Rs29.78. On Aug 22, the government once again sought to raise the power rate by Rs3.55 per unit.

This sparked protest demon­strations led by traders and the public in various cities. Fuelled by their frustration with in­flated power bills, people have taken to the streets in recent days against unbearable price hikes and inflated bills.

Yesterday, large parts of the country saw a shutter-down strike and protest rallies on the call of various traders’ bodies, as well as the JI, to pro­test taxing hikes in electrici­ty bills and petroleum prices. Provincial capitals in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Ba­lochistan remained completely shut, whereas Karachi, Rawal­pindi and Islamabad saw a partial shutdown.

Earlier today, the JI held a meeting to decide its future course of action on the mat­ter. Addressing a press confer­ence in Lahore after the meet­ing, Haq thanked the people and trader community for par­ticipating in Saturday’s strike, adding that it had sent a mes­sage to the government that “we don’t accept those agree­ments which past govern­ments made with IPPs”.

Those who signed these deals had “betrayed the nation and committed injustice”, he added.

He said the strike had provid­ed an opportunity for the care­taker government to renegoti­ate the deals, citing the public dissatisfaction and resentment at large with power costs.

Haq said that using the right to information on the IPP agreements, “we will go to the Supreme Court against these deals and unveil them before the nation”.

Additionally, he called for protests outside the governor houses in all four provinces and warned that the JI could go for a wheel-jam strike if the need arose and the increase in elec­tricity prices was not reversed.

Haq was of the view that IPP deals had only benefitted elite classes while burdening the public at large. The JI chief also assailed the rise in prices of pe­troleum products and called for it to be reversed as well.

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