By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, who have built up multi-million rupee palaces in the name of farmhouses in Chak Shahzad bordering Islamabad, are getting subsidy on their electricity bills and are charged at the cheapest agricultural rates, copies of their bills obtained by The News have revealed.
A selected few amongst the other highly influential and well-connected residents of Chak Shahzad are also paying the cheapest rates with the connivance of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco).
While the whole world knows that Musharraf has constructed a modern house on the farm, obtained for breeding poultry and vegetables, the Iesco is still allowing him to enjoy the cheapest of power tariff D-2(1), which is meant for agriculture tube-wells and lift irrigation pumps and is even subsidised by the government from the taxpayers’ money.
Because of Iesco’s generosity, Musharraf was charged, at least, Rs 50,000 less than the ordinary consumer for April 2009. He has been enjoying similar tariff concession for the last few years which, according to the Iesco sources, is illegal and nothing but cheating and fraud.
Sources in the Iesco reveal Musharraf is one of those over a dozen influentials who are misusing the D-2(1) tariff in their respective farmhouses, which are either used for residential purposes or for industrial and commercial purposes.
Such influentials, besides Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz who fled from the country within weeks after completing his tenure, includes former PML-N senator Saifur Rehman and top parliamentarians and retired defence officers.
The area SDO, Mian Jamil, when approached confirmed to The News that those using the farmhouses for residential purposes were charged at A-1(a) tariff, which is meant for domestic consumers.
He said such residences if using D-2(1) tariff, were involved in illegality and their power connections should be disconnected.Although, an Iesco source insists that this cheating is going on with the connivance of the authority officials, and SDO Jamil, while admitting that he knows that the agriculture tariffs are being used by Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz, said action would be taken against the violators once The News highlighted the issue.
Iesco spokesman Chaman Khan was not immediately available but a senior Iesco officer Executive Engineer Rashid, while talking to The News, said residential meters were installed at the residences of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz.
When told that according to the electricity bill of these two farmhouses (see attached copies) the tariff type is given as D-2(1) which is for agricultural use, he said it was not in his knowledge. When asked whether there was any policy of Iesco to give concession to influential or government persons, Rashid said there was no such policy and he would investigate the issue tomorrow.
In the case of Saifur Rehman, whose Chak Shahzad farmhouse is also being used as Redco’s site office, SDO Jamil said his connection was changed a few months back and given industrial tariff. The Admin officer at Rehman’s site office when contacted did not offer any comment.
However, the electricity bill of Saifur Rehman’s place shows that the D-2(1) tariff is still intact at his residence though it was showing not to have consumed even one unit of electricity since January this year. An Iesco source said at least 24 air conditioner units are fixed in the Redco farmhouse buildings.
The SDO also confirmed that a former ISI chief, who is also residing in the same locality, was provided free-of-cost transformer and poles, etc., following orders of the then-Iesco chief Brigadier Shahbaz.
Normally every farmhouse is supposed to pay for Rs 700,000 to Rs 1,000,000 for transformer, which is mandatory for each connection. However, this retired general is using normal domestic connection.
Iesco sources say Gen (retd) Musharraf’s farmhouse was also provided a free-of-cost transformer and other equipment in 2006, which was of higher cost than the one offered to the former ISI director-general. These sources said some senators, including a former Senate chairman, a retired admiral, and a former brigadier, a business group, etc., are also using the D-2(1) connections.
Gen (retd) Musharraf’s electricity bill for the month of April for which the reading was done on May 2 shows that despite consuming 5,600 units, his current bill was calculated at Rs 25,841 at the flat rate of Rs 4 per unit.
On this amount, which includes a general sales tax of Rs 2,763, Musharraf was given tariff subsidy of Rs 8,010, which reduced the bill to Rs 17,831. This is only possible because of the special connection given to the former general. In case of a normal domestic connection, Musharraf would have been charged a much higher rate according to the tariff for domestic consumers.
If an ordinary domestic consumer consumes 5,600 units per month, he would be charged at the following rates: Up to 100 units @ Rs3.29 unit; from 101-200 units @ Rs4.96 per unit; from 201-400 units @ Rs8.03 per unit and above 700 units @ Rs10 per unit. The total would thus be Rs 73,498. It shows Musharraf had saved more than Rs 50,000 in just one month because of this illegal connection and fraudulent use of concessional tariff.