Staggering line losses

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed in a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday that the country sustained staggering line losses of Rs 213 billion annually and Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) is at the top in line losses that are up to 32.6% followed by Sukkur and Hyderabad distribution companies. SESCO line losses are 31.9%, HESCO 30.6% and QESCO 23.1%. Electricity theft is one of the major problems.
The revelations made before the PAC makes it clear as to why the energy sector is not coming out of the vicious circle of circular debt, which has once again reached at an alarming level of Rs 550 billion. The present Government after assumption of power had cleared the debt but it’s resurfacing that is a clear indication that authorities concerned have not been able to address its real causes. Electricity theft has become proverbial in Pakistan and the culture of Kundas (illegal direct connections) exists in many areas and this could not be eradicated even by the army management of WAPDA, which tried to launch a crack down on electricity theft. It is also worth mentioning that electricity theft is phenomenal in some areas but all the consumers including those who pay their bills honestly are penalised by the existing exploitative system, which is being patronised by vested political interests. The worst aspect of the entire episode is that the electricity theft takes place with full connivance of officials of the distribution companies and the losses so sustained by the entities are made up by inflated reading of honest consumers forcing them to pay more than what they consume. As for the line losses, the Government must undertake comprehensive studies with collaboration of some global experts in the field and prepare a plan for updating the old and dilapidated distribution system.

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