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National

May 14, 2018

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Rs59.174b power theft in 9 Discos in 9 months

ISLAMABAD: The country’s bleeding power sector continued to hit national exchequer owing to the burgeoning efficiencies. And this ugly reality is further substantiated with the new fact of quantum of power theft of Rs59.174 billion registered in nine electricity power distribution companies during the period from July 2007 to March 2018.

More importantly, Discos have, instead of plugging the theft hole in the power sector, subjected the end consumers to Rs30-40 billion overbilling in one year through manipulating the electricity units in a bid to offset the damage done to nation exchequer in the wake of electricity theft. This shocking disclosure has been unfolded in the latest official documents about the Quantum of Theft of Electricity in nine public sector Discos. The documents are also in procession of The News.

In the first nine months of outgoing fiscal 20017-18, the biggest theft of electricity of 1.921 billion units in Pesco (Peshawar Electric Supply Company) took place inflicting the colossal loss of Rs23.489 billion upon the system. Pesco supplies the electricity to whole KP province and some portion of AJK. It (Pesco) is right now considered the most loss making entity because of theft of electricity at the highest level.

In Sindh there are two Discos which supply the electricity to the inhabitants of the province excluding Karachiites; One is Hesco (Hyderabad Electric Supply Company) and other one is Sepco (Sukkar Electric Power Company). Sindh has emerged the second province where in the electricity theft is at higher side with 1.126 billion units stolen in first 9 months of the current fiscal year. The worth of 1.126 billion units has been worked out Rs16.505 billion.

The documents further revealed that in the Punjab province, all is not well. The sizable electricity theft of Rs12.429 billion has also ranked Punjab in third number. In Punjab, there are five Discos in number that include Iesco, Lesco, Mepco, Gepco and Fesco. Amongst the five in Punjab, Lesco (Lahore Electric Supply Company) is the entity that braved the maximum loss of Rs6.656 billion on account of theft of 546 million electricity units. Lesco supplies the electricity to the provincial capital--Lahore. The second Disco in Punjab in terms of electricity theft is Mepco (Multan Electric Power Company) which provides electricity to Multan and many cities of South Punjab. The quantum of electricity theft in Mepco is also at higher side as the documents maintains that 286 million units of electricity valuing Rs3.021 billion have been stolen. Likewise, in Fesco (Faisalabad Electric Supply Company), the 128 million electricity units got stolen by unscrupulous elements valuing Rs1.524 billion. In Gepco (Gujranwala Electric Power Company), theft of 80 million units of electricity took place damaging the nation exchequer of the loss of Rs1.002 billion. However, Iesco (Islamabad Electric Supply Company) has emerged as the most efficient entity as just 16 million units valuing Rs0.226 billion are stolen.

Coming to Balochistan, in Qesco (Quetta Electric Supply Company), the official documents painted the dismal situation telling that the huge quantum of electricity units of 460 million valuing Rs6.751 billion got stolen in first 9 months of the outgoing financial year.

Realizing the theft of electricity, the Minister for Energy (Power) Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari wrote a letters on May 8, 2018, requesting chief ministers of all provinces to help the Centre in controlling electricity theft.The minister had also written letter to chief ministers in March 2018 asking for a meeting to devise a strategy and finalising details to cope with the power theft issue that is adding 10 of billions of rupees a month to the circular debt. The letters highlighted dire need of support from the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for safeguarding staff/installations of power distribution companies during crackdown operation on pilferers and prompt registration of FIRs for curbing the theft and proceeding against the culprits.

Meanwhile, latest presentation on Discos performance, pitched before higher authorities, unfolds that Discos are still involved in overbilling by manipulated units in the electricity bills sent to the consumers.

This shows how unscrupulous officials of Discos are hell bent upon punishing the legitimate consumers through overbilling for the crime of electricity theft done by corrupt elements in the society. According to the presentation on Discos output, just in the month of January 2018, end consumers has paid Rs1.970 billion to Discos in the head of overbilling managed through manipulation of the electricity units.

In the month of November, 2017, as many as 10.5 per cent units of electricity are manipulated and are illegally added in electricity bills, in December last year, 14.7 per cent and in the month of January this year 3.9 per cent units are manipulated and added in the electricity bills. Though the Power Division, headed by Sardar Awais Laghari, has lunched a campaign against the overbilling, but Discos are still involved in the systematic manipulation of the electricity units to cope with the distribution losses which factually stand at 19 per cent.

The relevant joint secretary says that though Federal Minister Sardar Awais Laghari is serious to do away with the curse of overbilling, yet it has been reported that many Discos are still involved in ugly practice and to this effect, in Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) alone, overbilling has gone up to Rs5.50 billion. One of the top men in the power division also told The News that Mepco consumers have paid a mammoth amount of Rs5.50 billion in the head of over-billing which is sheer unjustified.

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