Punjab Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has suspended seven employees, including a sub-divisional officer (SDO), for their alleged involvement in the Rs 50 lakh billing scam in the Patiala north subdivision.
The corporation will also register a first information report (FIR) against these employees. “Following a preliminary inquiry, which confirmed that the meter readings have been changed in the server to benefit select consumers, eights employees have been suspended with immediate effect. A criminal case will also be registered against them,” said PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director KD Chaudhri.
The Patiala zone chief engineer has also recommended a departmental probe to check the involvement of other officials in the scam.
Those suspended include SDO Naveet Gupta, junior engineer Devinder Kumar, clerks Pardeep Kumar and Renu Nagra, and three technical officials Vikas Tangri, Jang Singh and Inderdhian Singh.
The CMD has also directed the chief auditor to trace all cases of reversal of meter reading across Punjab.
In a report “PSPCL hit by billing scam, loses Rs 50 lakh” published on September 2, Hindustan Times had highlighted how meter reading of some consumers was changed in the server, causing a loss of more than Rs 50 lakh to the corporation.
Employees of the corporation’s task force, which was constituted by the Patiala superintending engineer (SE) to check power theft, were under the scanner for allegedly changing the meter reading of 20 select consumers. The loss of Rs 20 lakh has already been detected by the corporation.
Some consumers were asked not to deposit their bimonthly bills prepared on basis of actual readings by on-the-spot billing machines for a year and their connections were not disconnected.
Later, employees reversed the meter reading in the server and the power bills of these consumers, which were in lakhs, were reduced to a few thousands.
For example, a consumer of Yadavindra Colony did not pay his power bill since December 2014 when his meter reading was 21,979 units.
His original bill showed he consumed 40,143 units in February 2016.
Later, the task force employees reversed the reading in the server to 23,326 units, 16,817 units less than which he actually consumed, thus giving him a benefit of Rs 1.17 lakh, said an inquiry report.