Enormous power theft


The Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Power has been informed that electricity worth 380 billion was stolen in the ongoing year (2022-23) and the loss will reach Rs. 520 billion next year. Secretary Power Division Rashid Langriyal, while briefing the Committee said that electricity theft this year was Rs380 billion, of which Rs200 billion was stolen through Kundas (hooks) and Rs80 billion was stolen through meters and other sources.

The vicious circular debt is assuming alarming dimensions and the decision-makers frequently resort to tariff increases to bring the level of debt down whereas the admission of the Power Secretary about rampant theft in the system makes it clear that the real cause of the circular debt was theft and line losses. This speaks volumes about policy planning and the tendency to burden honest consumers for the crime committed by others, who go scot free as theft takes place in connivance with the staff of the distribution companies.

It is not a new phenomenon as electricity theft has been there for decades but regrettably the successive governments could not prepare and implement plans to check the menace effectively and penalize those who commit this crime in the broad-daylight. What a shame that electricity worth Rs. 5 billion a year is stolen from a single grid station in Bannu while the total financial impact of electricity theft in Pesco was Rs185 billion during the current year. Who will safeguard rights and interests of the honest consumers as the Government, instead of eliminating the known theft, is planning to pass on the impact of Rs.520 billion worth of electricity to the consumers in their bills from the next fiscal year? There is no ray of hope for improvement in the situation as expectations that introduction of ABC cables would help check theft have been shattered.

According to the Secretary, there are firms that offer services to rupture ABC cables and their services are hired by electricity stealers. What a pity that criminals are so organized and adamant but the Government lacks the authority to move against them. The problem would remain there until and unless discos are split into smaller entities and handed over to provincial/local governments.