The federal government is gearing up to intensify its crackdown on electricity theft nationwide, a move aimed at alleviating the soaring technical and commercial losses encountered by power distribution companies. The decision comes as a response to the widespread public uproar over exorbitant electricity bills noted in August. A Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) spokesperson verified that a comprehensive strategy to eradicate power theft “with full force” was formalized in a recent meeting by the Federal Power Division Secretary, Rashid Mahmood Langrial.
During the meeting, it was revealed that commercial power theft accounted for a significant portion of the Rs600 billion annual loss. Attendees, including CEOs of all ten distribution companies (DISCOs), provincial chief secretaries, and police chiefs, were briefed on hindrances such as substantial line losses, inadequate bill recovery, and prevalent lawlessness exacerbating the issues. Highlighting the severe concerns over the rampant power theft and unsatisfactory revenue collection, particularly in areas serviced by Peshawar, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, and the Tribal electric supply companies, Langrial outlined a concerted action plan to mitigate losses.
Collaborative Actions and Preemptive Measures Against Power Thieves
The meeting also entailed discussions on identifying specific regions with direct electricity theft from 11kV distribution lines or low-tension cables, emphasising taking decisive action against individuals obstructing the anti-power theft operations or assaulting officials. Recently, there were instances where power thieves assaulted LESCO personnel, an issue that necessitated provincial chief secretaries and police chiefs to aid DISCOs in apprehending and prosecuting these criminals.
To tackle this issue effectively, the government plans to establish teams across all DISCOs sub-divisions, including civil administration and police officers, to swiftly respond to power theft instances. Furthermore, local committees will be instituted to manage any resistance encountered during power theft counteractions, particularly from women in certain localities known for active opposition against official teams tasked with disconnecting illegal connections. One locality cited was Mohallah Kakkay Zai in Lahore’s Shahdara area, notorious for widespread power theft and aggressive confrontations against LESCO teams. The government is determined to launch an exemplary crackdown, resorting to force, if necessary, to eliminate power theft.