The meter-reversing scam in Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) became bigger on Friday when another module tampering with computerised bills was busted and three more employees were suspended.
Nine employees have been suspended, so far, and now two retired officials also found involved. The corporation has recommended an FIR (first-information report) against all 11. The scam is on since 2013.
Accounts officer Vipin Kumar Matharu was suspended because in four cases, including one of a commercial venture, meter readings were reversed to benefit consumers. Junior engineer Ashok Kumar and revenue accountant Rajesh Sharma, both retired, along with clerk Pradeep Kumar Mittal and circle assistant Jaswinder Singh are also alleged to be involved.
Matharu, Jaswinder Singh, and Kumar have been suspended with immediate effect. Matharu was named twice, first in 2014 and then in a fresh report to chairman-and-managing director (CMD) KD Chaudhri. Mittal is suspended since HT busted the scam.
Subdivisional officer (SDO) Naveet Gupta, junior engineer Devinder Kumar, clerk Renu Nagra, and technical officials Vikas Tangri, Jang Singh, and Inderdhian Singh were suspended along with him and recommended for cyber-crime case.
PSPCL director (distribution) KL Sharma confirmed that he had issued the suspension orders.
“We introduced information technology to check theft and revenue leakage but some employees defeated the purpose,” he said. “An FIR will send a strong message out.”
After more reports of meter reversal, the CMD has asked the director (distribution) to monitor the investigation personally. He called chief engineers for a meeting and told them to pass on the warning to field workers.
Consumers were asked not to deposit bimonthly bills based on actual reading taken on the spot by billing machines. Even after a year, their connections were not disconnected. Later, employees reversed the meter reading on the server to reduce these power bills for lakhs of rupees to just a few thousand bucks.