Power theft an organised crime in Delhi: Discoms
A BSES engineer was killed and four others were injured when their car rammed a tree, allegedly in their bid to flee a “violent mob”, in west Delhi’s Jaffarpur on Monday morning.delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2017 20:49 IST
Monday’s alleged mob attack on power officials was the fifth such incident in the past one month, highlighting not only the menace of power theft but also the perils faced by those who act against it.
Discom officials say the security is the biggest problem they face while cracking down on power thieves. “Before the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, there was a dedicated team of 114 CISF personnel for protecting the officials. The discoms used to pay them. But, it stopped and despite us writing several letters to get a similar team again, we have not got any response,” an official said.
Narrating the ordeals they faced while checking incidents of power thief, the official said that sometime policemen accompany them during inspections but “they are not able to control violent situations”.
Officials of distribution companies told Hindustan Times that power theft has now taken shape of an organsied crime in Delhi.
“These areas are highly sensitive. In most cases, criminal elements gherao us and obstruct us from doing our duties. Some areas in outer Delhi are so volatile that residents attack the teams,” said an official who looks into such cases, requesting anonymity.
Earlier this month, a power theft inspection team was attacked in Mundka’s Tikri Village. In June, three similar incidents took place, two of which were in Mundka (Ranholla and Tikri) and one was reported from Village Ujawa in Jaffarpur. Other areas that have rampant power theft include Najafgarh, Nangloi, Shaheen Bagh, Deoli / Khanpur, Tughalakabad, Seelampur, Daryaganj, Chandni Chowk, Yamuna Vihar and Dallupura.
In fact, in these areas, AT&C losses still range between 25% to 50%. At the time of privatisation, AT&C losses in Delhi were around 60%, largely on account of power theft. Today, such losses stand at around 12%.
Damaging vehicles and stone pelting are some of the common ways employed by power thieves to shoo away officials, discoms alleged. In some instances, women try to frame them in false cases of sexual harassment.
Areas that still have high rate of power theft not only cause revenue loss but also overload the distribution network – impacting the reliability of power supply in these areas. This overloading of the distribution network is an extra burden on the honest consumers – both financially and also in getting reliable power supply.
In the last 4-5 years, over 3,700 FIRs have been registered, over 1300 arrests made and over 550 convicted for stealing electricity in the South, West, Central and East Delhi. Besides heavy penalties, those convicted have faced jail terms of up to five years.
Unauthorized use of electricity is a cognizable offence under the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003. The Act provides for stiff penalties. If electricity is used for the purpose, other than for which the usage of electricity was authorized, it is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three (for first offence) to five years (for repeat offenders), fine or both.