Plight of power consumers

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AT long last, a beginning has been made to address the woes of the power consumers, who have long been agitating against unjust and discriminatory planning and policies that hurt the interests of the honest and law-abiding consumers.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Monday, directed to employ technology based solutions at distribution companies’ level to save the interests of paying consumers from the inconvenience of load-management in low recovery grids.

He gave the directive while chairing the 48th meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) which approved “Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2021” envisaging indicative electricity demand and supply for the next ten years based on overall requirements and with least cost.

The large-scale electricity theft and wilful default on payment of bills are, no doubt, at the heart of the problems of the power sector including the unstoppable circular debt.

In the face of aggravating situation, the Government was forced to pursue a policy of shutting down grids for longer duration in areas of theft and low recovery.

However, this across-the-board approach also penalized those who pay their bills regularly and are not involved in electricity theft, in any manner.

The directions of the Prime Minister, if implemented with the same spirit, would surely help mitigate difficulties of the honest consumers and discourage those who are involved in malpractices and default.

However, this discrimination is not confined to the inconvenience of load-management in low recovery grids as consumers in whole electricity regions are penalized for the faults of others and inefficiency of the companies and their staff.

The electricity tariff, which takes care of electricity theft and losses, is applied to all consumers of all distribution regions irrespective of the performance of the discos in respect of recovery of bills, steps taken to check theft and provision of new connections.

There is absolutely no justification to enforce the same tariff in discos like IESCO, LESCO and FESCO where recovery is close to hundred percent and the instance of theft is negligible.

What an irony that instead of reforming the bleeding discos, projects like smart metering and tampered proof transmission and distribution lines are initiated in efficient discos? The consumers are also suffering due to the longstanding problem of inflated bills despite the introduction of modern technology and the situation is worse in rural areas where consumers are not only fleeced through inflated bills but their electronic gadgets are frequently damaged due to widespread instances of extremely low voltage.

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Power may look into these issues as well and provide relief to the consumers, which is not a difficult task as most of these problems can be resolved through better oversight and accountability.

 

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