Eid-ul-Adha is one of the festive holidays which Muslims celebrate with joy and zeal. Unfortunately, when it comes to Balochistan, analytical optics of events and festivals become dark and pessimistic. From water scarcity to electricity outages, every indicator is falling behind even though the province is mineral rich and can overcome the energy crisis. However, this richness has not bore any fruit yet, and, therefore, people spent this time of celebration in sweltering heat and darkness.
During all three days of Eid, numerous districts of the province faced unannounced load shedding which greatly disturbed the rituals of the occasion. As far as Quetta is concerned, the city may have faced 4 to 6 hours of load-shedding. But, other districts are having far worse conditions of the power outages. Take, for instance, Loralai, where the load-shedding period is around 12-16 hours. If the main urban areas have this kind of electricity supply what would be the condition of villages? In one of the reports, it has been indicated that only 36 percent of Balochistan have access to electricity whereas the remaining 65 percent is largely powerless.
Despite governmental pledges and the resumption of new power supplies to Qesco, the province witnessed massive power outages even during the Eid days. Amidst intense heat, the residents faced difficulties while carrying out the festive celebrations. In that spirit, festive days are incomplete if the tailor refuses to stitch new clothes. Unfortunately, due to 12-18 hour load-shedding, tailors remained unable to stitch clothes despite the fact that these days are best to make some financial gains.
It is pertinent to note that prolonged load shedding is the norm in the province. It has not only affected the celebrations and day-to-day activities of residents but business centers and hospitals as well. On one hand, fruit vendors/vegetable sellers are finding it difficult to keep fresh their stores, while, on the other hand, hospitals are helpless to save vaccines and medicines owing to the load shedding. Besides, the residents are also complaining that low voltages have damaged their electrical appliances which have incurred more financial losses.
The impacts of low voltages and power outages don’t stop here. It may have affected every sphere of life but it has also put more burden on women. Owing to this beleaguered situation of electricity and festive celebrations, men usually take the chance to visit nearby waterfalls or lush green landscapes. But, women remain there in homes owing to traditional values and societal constraints. Furthermore, women do have not access to clean fuels and technologies to deal with kitchen-related responsibilities. This is the start of societal discriminatory practices where recreational activities are also considered to be masculine. Perhaps, there is still a need to educate people that women also belong to these beautiful landscapes and not just for cooking food and taking care of the household.
In brief, the electricity problem of the province has not only affected the day-to-day activities, business, and health care of the residents of Balochistan but festive celebrations as well. Despite governmental claims and assurances, the province didn’t get a continuous power supply even for three days.
The writer holds an M.Phil Degree in South Asian Studies from the University of Punjab. She can be reached on Twitter @TahiraGhilzai.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the writer and Balochistan Voices does not necessarily agree with them.
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