|Saturday, March 18, 2000,
to curb power thefts
AMRITSAR, March 17 The Punjab State Electricity Board has launched a multi-pronged strategy to curb power theft in the state. The board has suffered a loss of Rs 600 crore due to power thefts, the board Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal said talking to a group of newsmen today at the power rest house here.
Mr Sohal has directed all his senior officers to detect power thefts the campaign has yielded results. A number of cases have been detected in Ludhiana, Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts. Mr Sohal said certain persons run rice-sheller at night by using kundi connection.
The Chairman felt losses due to power thefts had swelled to Rs 1100 crore in the current year.
Mr Sohal made a case for withdrawing subsidies for all types of consumers in the State. Giving the break-up of costing Mr Sohal said while the generation cost, transmission, distribution, line losses etc add up to Rs 3.23 while the domestic consumers were billed at an average of Rs 2.20, small scale units at Rs 2.25 and medium and large industrial and commercial consumers at around Rs 3 per unit. As compared to Haryana where all categories were being billed at Rs 3.93, Maharashtra at Rs 5 and Karnataka at Rs 4.55.
The Chairman added that the board has already made a representation to the government about the rationalisation of power tariff and the slab system.
Free power supply to the agriculture sector has made the board to suffer a loss of Rs 250 crore annually. The board has not been compensated for it yet, the Chairman added.
The board would be able to give dividend of Rs 10 crore to the state government as a return on its investment by 2001-2002.
The board has made a capital investment to augment its existing generation capacity since 1997-98. In the next four to five years 1000 mega watt more power would be generated. The second stage of Lehra Mohabbatan with a capacity of 500 MW, and the Goindwal Thermal power project in the private sector would be commissioned by 2005.
The Chairman revealed that the much delayed Ranjit Sagar Dam project near Pathankot was likely to start generation by October this year. Giving details of its commissioning, he added that the second tunnel of the Thein Dam had been completed and water would start filling the reservoir during the coming monsoon and after testing, the hydro power station would provide additional power of around 135 MW.
Mr Sohal pointed that at present the demand for power was growing at the annual rate of 8 to 10 per cent while the existing capacity was 5100 MW. The peak requirement during the summer was over 10,000 MW, which the board met through the Central pool and from Himachal Pradesh.
He favoured to start small power plants which could be commissioned within a period of 15 to 20 months. He said that the private sector was being involved in this venture, which was likely to be set up at Mandi Gobindgarh, Ludhiana and in nearby areas.
The Chairman announced that from April onwards, the bill collection would be done by State Bank of Patiala to ease hardships of 50 lakh consumers.
The PSEB Member, Operation, Mr Kirpal Singh, said the board has earmarked Rs 35 crore for revamping the distribution network for Amritsar city and the work on it would start after getting the loan from the Punjab Finance Corporation. He assured that during the next few months the power position would improve.
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