HT Impact: SDO among 5 PSPCL employees booked in Rs 50-lakh billing scam | punjab | Hindustan Times
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HT Impact: SDO among 5 PSPCL employees booked in Rs 50-lakh billing scam

Members of the PSPCL task force, which was constituted by the then superintending engineer to check power theft in 2015, in dock for allegedly changing the metre reading of 20 select consumers, case registered

punjab Updated: Jul 20, 2017 23:23 IST
Vishal Rambani
The scam came to light in July 2016, when an email by an assistant engineer in the information technology department of the PSPCL to the SE pointed out that metre reading of 20 consumers had been reversed.
The scam came to light in July 2016, when an email by an assistant engineer in the information technology department of the PSPCL to the SE pointed out that metre reading of 20 consumers had been reversed. (HT Representative Image)

After investigating the matter for one year, the Punjab Police have registered a case in the first-of-its-kind metre reading fraud in the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL). The metre reading of some consumers was changed in the computer server, causing a loss of more than ₹50 lakh to the corporation.

Members of the corporation’s task force, which was constituted by the then superintending engineer (SE) to check power theft in 2015, are in the dock for allegedly changing the metre reading of 20 select consumers.

So far, the police have established a loss of ₹17.97 lakh, but it will increase as the interrogation of the accused will lead to further revelation of the consumers, who were illegally benefitted by the PSPCL employees.

In a report, “PSPCL hit by billing scam, loses ₹50 lakh” published on September 2, 2016, the Hindustan Times had highlighted how metre reading of some consumers was changed in the computer server, causing a loss of more than ₹50 lakh to the corporation.

The FIR has been registered against sub-divisional officer (SDO) Navneet Gupta, clerk Renu Nagar, junior engineer Vikas Tangri, Pardeep Kumar and Devinder Kumar, both linemen.

The scam came to light in July 2016, when an email by an assistant engineer in the information technology department of the PSPCL to the SE pointed out that metre reading of 20 consumers had been reversed using the password of sub-divisional officer Navneet Gupta, who was transferred to Nabha in January this year.

Gupta gave the password to junior engineers and other staff, who changed the reading data online and took money from consumers.

As per the finding, selected consumers of the Patiala north subdivision were asked not to deposit their bimonthly bills prepared on the basis of actual reading by on-the-spot spot billing machines for a year and their connections were not disconnected. Later, their metre readings were reversed in the computer. Police found that Renu Nagar was using the password of Navneet Gupta, and both were hand-in-glove in the fraud.

Thereafter, their metres were shown burnt and were changed. The power bills of these consumers, which amounted in lakhs, were reduced to a few thousands of rupees.

So far, 20 such cases have come to the fore, and a detailed probe is on.

A case under sections 135 and 138 of the Electricity Act, sections 409, 468, 471, 477-A, 167, 201 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 65 of the Information Technology Act, has been registered against the accused.

Modus Operandi

-Select consumers of Patiala north subdivision were asked not to deposit their bimonthly power bills for a year.

-Task force members used the SDO’s password and changed the original metre reading of the consumers on the server showing less than the units consumed

-The metres were later shown to have been damaged or burnt and were replaced with new ones

-Their bills, which were in lakhs, were shown to be of only a few thousands of rupees