IT is good news that the federal government has directed power distribution companies to provide relief to around 80,000 farmers in the form of charging them Rs 4 per unit, the rate applicable to only those 120,000 agriculturists or so who have the 'time-of-day metres installed on their tubewells. The beneficiaries of the order have not had such metres and were being billed at the rate of Rs 6.75 per unit fixed for that category. However, they have been advised to install them immediately and avoid using the tubewells between 7am and 11pm. A pertinent point that arises is that the growth of Pakistans economy largely revolves around its agricultural output and to ensure adequate production the authorities need to be paying special attention to the tiller of the soil. Unfortunately, however, the inadvisable policies of neglect pursued by successive governments have kept them extremely poor, unlike similar other world economies where they receive special benefits and are financially much better off. One hopes that their other demands like making agricultural inputs affordable are also listened to. But the big question, which comes to mind on hearing about the Rs 2.75 per unit relief, is whether power supply is, indeed, available to them. The irrefutable answer would at best be 'doubtful. It is a bitter fact that the axe of power shortage falls more heavily on the rural areas than towns and cities. Strangely, while the country is reeling under a mounting tariff the measures the government is taking to bridge the gap would not result in any relief. In fact, the charges are progressively going up under the IMF pressure. The different provinces continue to bicker about the construction of a big water reservoir at Kalabagh that could have by now made available a large enough chunk of power, avoiding the current shortage, had the project been undertaken when its viability in all respects was first established. Another point that exacerbates the frustration caused by the power shortage on the one hand and high prices of consumption on the other is found in the Iranian Ambassadors remark he expressed on Wednesday that though his country was willing to immediately supply 1000MW of power at a cheaper rate, Pakistan is showing little interest in accepting the offer. His lament that in response Irans completion of the pipeline on its side of the border to take the natural gas to Pakistan, Islamabad has done nothing, tends to endorse his view that an unknown power is at work to dissuade it from availing of the facility that could take care of its power needs for a long time.