ISLAMABAD: The state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which was once promised to be exempt from electricity load shedding by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is facing 16 to 18 hours of unscheduled load shedding, disturbing lives and businesses of the residents. Until September this year, the duration of the load shedding was around 4 to 6 hours in the urban areas and 12 hours in the rural areas however several cities of AJK including the capital city of Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Rawalakot, Hattian Bala, Chakothi and other districts are facing severe load shedding ranging from 16 to 18 hours every day. The residents are furious over the long and persistent power outages and called it injustice with the citizens. ‘AJK is producing more than 1,000 MW of hydroelectricity while the demand of entire state is just 400MW, still, the power supply does not meet the present demand, isn’t it ironic?’ said Bilal Lone, a resident of Muzaffarabad. AJK is currently producing 1,216.1 MW from eight different projects which include Mangla Dam (1,120MW), New Bong Escape Hydropower Plant (84 MW), Jagran Dam, Neelam (30.4 MW) Kathai Dam (3.2 MW), Kundal Shahi (2 MW), Leepa Dam (2 MW), Kel hydro project (0.5 MW) and Jari Dam (1 MW). 11 other mini and minor hydropower projects sponsored by Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) are also underway in AJK. The 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, started in 2008 and have missed several deadlines repeatedly since then, is also expected to be completed in December 2017. Whether or not these projects bring relief to the people of AJK, Zahid Amin, former chairman Development Authority Muzaffarabad (DAM) says that in current scenario, it does not seem to be happening. “The attitude of WAPDA and PESCO towards AJK is irresponsible and could hardly be tolerated. They do not even give AJK its allocated share and unfortunately, AJK Electricity Department can’t challenge their decision as they have no say over them’ said Amin. In November this year, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the Ministry of Water and Power to reduce the duration of power outages across AJK, however the commitment had not been met. Amin said that people are frustrated from back to back unfulfilled commitments made by the Federal and AJK rulers but they are holding their anger to give the newly elected government some time to resolve the crisis but if it continues for few more days, then no one could stop AJK people from turning violent. It is pertinent to mention here that the cost of generating power from hydropower stations installed in the AJK works out at around Rs2.59 per kWh, whereas the federal government sells power to AJK at Rs12 per unit to consumers. When this scribe tried to contact the Minister for Electricity Raja Nisar Ahmed Khan but could not reach him despite repeated attempts.