Tribune News Service
Patiala, April 7
In the past six years, Punjab residents have stolen power worth Rs 6,000 crore, which is equal to the annual state government subsidy for farmers and BPL families. On an average, Punjab residents have been stealing power worth between Rs 1,000-1,200 crore annually with Tarn Taran and Amritsar districts leading the chart.
Sources said rural residents are ahead of their urban counterparts in the “power loot”, accounting for around 66 per cent of the theft through concealed devices, capacitors, ‘kundis’ or meter-tampering. “The sad part is that even wealthy families steal power and run to local politicians when raided. Our teams are attacked and gheraoed by villagers as they know they have political backing,” said a top official.
Rs800 Cr annual loss in rural areas
Data showed that villagers, majority of whom get free power for tubewells, steal power around Rs 800 crore per annum while urban consumers (domestic and commercial) account for thefts worth Rs 300 crore. The industrial sector steals power worth Rs 100 crore.
Govt releases Rs10,106 CR pending subsidy
Patiala: The Punjab Government released Rs 10,106-crore pending subsidy to the PSPCL for the financial year 2020-21, following which the balance subsidy of Rs 5,779 crore up to March 31, 2020 is still pending. — TNS
Data compiled by The Tribune from official documents prepared by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), confirmed that “power theft alone had caused loss worth over Rs 6,000 crore to the state exchequer in the past six years.”
Documents suggested that in Tarn Taran, Bhikhiwind and Patti, the PSPCL had faced losses (primarily due to power theft) of 79.14, 67.36, and 45.64 per cent, respectively. In Amritsar suburban circle, three divisions of West, Ajnala and sub-urban have losses of 55.32, 55.37 and 44.34 per cent, respectively.
In Sangrur district, Patran and Lehragaga have losses of 54.87 and 52.49 per cent, respectively. The average distribution losses for the current financial year is 13.4 per cent comprising 10.94 per cent distribution losses and 2.46 per cent as transmission losses.
The PSPCL in its annual revenue receipt for the year 2021-22 had attributed the losses to the “rampant theft of energy” in these divisions. The PSPCL claims that whenever surprise raids are conducted, employees are often gheraoed and manhandled.
“Politicians fear they might lose elections if power theft ‘facility’ is withdrawn from consumers,” said VK Gupta, spokesman, All India Power Engineers’ Federation.
“Had power theft been controlled, the tariff would have come down by 30 paise per unit every year during the past six years,” he added.
PSPCL CMD A Venu Prasad said he had already asked all field officers to carry out regular raids and keep an eye on habitual offenders. “It is true power theft is a problem but we are now adopting a zero tolerance for power theft and thousands of cases have been registered in the recent past,” Prasad added.
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