As power tariffs soar, Farah residents return to lanterns
FARAH CITY (PAN): Most inhabitants of western Farah province, unable to pay heavy electricity bills, have returned to the use of lanterns, officials and residents said on Sunday.
Naqibuallah, a schoolteacher, said they had been forced into using lanterns due to soaring power rates. Residents are supplied electricity from government-run power generators in Farah City.
“The price of a kilowatt recently rose from 30 to 40 afghanis,” said the teacher, whose monthly salary is 3,700 afs. He urged the government to announce a cut in the tariffs to enable them to use electricity.
Syed Ahmad, another resident, said it was unjust to pay 40afs for one kilowatt because most of people could not afford it. Electricity for six zones in Farah is provided by government generators.
Lal Mohammad, who was buying kerosene oil for his lantern, said: “I am a daily wager and cannot pay 40 afs for a kilowatt of power.” Farah had a hot summer that makes life miserable without electricity, according to him. The worst sufferers are children.
With tears rolling in eyes, Mohammad recalled the death of his three-year-old son due to hot weather two years ago. “Our plight will persist as long as the government does not pay attention to us.”
Wahid Ahmad, an ice-cream seller in Farah City, said the high rates of electricity had badly affected his business. If the government did not reduce power charges, many like him would be compelled to give up their businesses, he added.
Muhammad Nadar, another dweller, suggested the Farahrud River could be harnessed to generate power, if the government installed turbines on it.
Abdul Hamid Hamid, the deputy provincial council chief, said one solution to the problem was to construct the Bakhshabad dam and import electricity from Iran.
President Hamid Karzai has promised constructing the dam, and the government plans to send a delegation to Iran next month for talks on electricity imports.
Abdulhadi Kashif, the irrigation director, confirmed the problem, saying that the province had enough water resources. He added a survey for the Bakhshabad dam had been completed, but work on the project not be initiated due to fund paucity.
The dam, located 45 kilometres north of the provincial capital, has the capacity of producing 20-28 megawatts of power, besides irrigating hundreds of hectares of land.
Mir Hatam Jahani, the power enterprise head, confirmed the rate of one kilowatt of electricity had increased from 30 to 40afs. He linked the surge to a hike in fuel prices.
The price of one litre of oil was 50afs last year, but it rose to 66afs in 2012, he said, adding the number of power consumers had also shot up from 300 to 30,000.
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