PULWAMA — Residents of Malikpora area in the main town Pulwama on Wednesday continued to protest for the second consecutive day against the installation of smart meters by the Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited.

The protestors blocked Pulwama-Kakapora road near Khar bridge and demanded that the installation of smart meters should be stopped and those installed should be removed. Protesters warned that if the government didn’t withdraw its decision, every resident of the area would come on the road to protest against the same.

The protesters said, “We hardly earn Rs 200 to 250 per day, how can we afford hefty electricity bills? Only lower middle class reside in this area. The government must rethink before putting one more burden on us.”

The protesters said their families were not in a position to pay the “excessive bills” generated by the devices, so would not allow the department to install the smart meters in their area. “We already have meters installed in our homes and we are paying regular bills. What is the fun of installing new meters?” a protestor asked.

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“Owing to the skyrocketing prices of essentials, our family budget is already stressed and we won’t be able to meet the additional expenses,” said another lady, adding, “Unemployment is at its peak. We have to pay water fee, electricity fee, now property tax and other fees, how can we afford all this.”

“No one is rich enough to afford the enormous electricity costs. If meters are installed, we will be unable to afford the bills. We are poor families here, and the majority of our men are daily wagers,” said another protester.

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The protesters said that the COVID-19 and uncertain situation in Kashmir had affected the life of a common man who isn’t in a condition to bear the extra brunt.

The protesters, mainly women, appealed to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to remove the newly installed smart electric meters in the area as the locality cannot afford the high tariff.

Meanwhile, protestors were later pacified by police who assured them that their genuine demands will be taken up with the concerned department.

The process of installing smart meters began in December 2020 to control electricity thefts. The Jammu and Kashmir Government has set the target of installing four lakh smart meters in union territory by 2023.

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