AS some circles, especially elected representatives of the areas, are agitating the issue of load-shedding in high theft areas, Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar, has cautioned that the menace of circular debt would continue to rise in the absence of load-shedding in such parts of the country.
In an interview on Sunday, he pointed out that since 2011, due to non-payments, load-shedding had to be carried out as there are certain feeders where 70-80% of the power supply is stolen.
The strategy of penalizing consumers for the instance of theft in their feeders was introduced after failure of the successive governments to check the rising theft and the resultant piling up of the circular debt, which has assumed dangerous dimensions now.
It is, of course, not fair to punish an entire area and its population for crimes committed by unscrupulous elements who need to be singled out and proceeded against under the law.
It is justifiably claimed that how can the authorities continue with the practice of uninterrupted supply to areas where up to 90% electricity is stolen but continuation of this policy for a decade without proper solution of the problem is questionable.
This is a manifestation of administrative failure of the power companies and both the federal and provincial governments concerned.
Isn’t it lamentable that in the 21st century there are still areas where the majority of consumers use electricity without meters and through illegal connections (called Kunda system)? Elected representatives are duty bound to highlight problems and difficulties of people in their respective constituencies but they also have a responsibility to cooperate in efforts to reduce and eliminate power and gas thefts as this criminal practice means unjust burden on honest consumers who are forced to also pay for the theft by others.
The issue should be thoroughly discussed at the platform of Parliament and on the basis of input by elected representatives a firm strategy should be formulated and implemented to eliminate the theft once for all, which is not an impossibility if staff of the Discos identifies and reports each and every theft honestly and action is taken against the culprits with the help of police and local administration.
All those involved in power and gas theft must be sent behind the bar irrespective of their influence and status in the society.