Pakistan: Farmers hold massive protests against rising power cost, fertilisers

Pakistan: Farmers hold massive protests against rising power cost, fertilisers

Thousands of farmers from Pakistan’s Punjab province held a massive protest for the third day on Friday (September 30) against rising cost of electricity and fertilisers which have badly hit their income.

The farmers, who have been protesting since Wednesday under the banner of Kisan Ittihad (Farmers Union), entered Islamabad via the Grand Trunk road and staged a sit-in at Blue Area, a few kilometre from the high-security Red Zone, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Officials said the farmers came from across Punjab province and were demanding restoration of the previous tubewell electricity tariff of Rs 5.3 per unit and abolishing all taxes and adjustments. Besides, they are seeking an end to black marketing of fertilisers and a reduction of urea rate which has risen to 400 per cent, the report said.

Also Read: Xi Jinping appears in public for first time since SCO summit

Talks were held between the government team led by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the farmers’ leaders on Thursday but the negotiations failed to end the deadlock, the report said.

The delegation asked the government to defer the bills and revise the power tariff. They also demanded a reduction in electricity bills, an official was quoted as saying.

The minister has sought time from senior farmer leaders, saying that a decision over their demands may take a day or two, and requested them to call off the protest and go back but the protestors refused to disperse until the government announced measures to address their concerns.

The farmers have threatened to go to the D-Chowk area in front of the parliament building where Imran Khan had staged a 126 days long sit-in protest in 2014.

Police have partially shut the Red Zone and erected diversion on some key roads, creating hurdles for the public.

Agriculture is a provincial subject and the federal government cannot address major issues of the farmers as respective provinces are free to make policies about the agriculture sector, the report said.

Also Read: Cuba has world’s most progressive family code now; know more

However, electricity and fertiliser prices are controlled by the federal government and that is why farmers have landed in Islamabad to get relief on the two key inputs.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on August 29 approved the release of a USD 1.17 billion tranche to Pakistan, providing much-needed budgetary support to meet fiscal and external deficits.

Despite the disbursal of the IMF tranche, the economic situation remains precarious, as the depleted forex reserves stood at only around USD 7.7 billion as on August 24.
The devastating floods, which have left more than 1,600 dead and displaced more than 30 million people, added to Pakistan’s forex woes, with an estimated loss of over USD 28 billion to the economy.

Read More
Next Story