Home Opinion Op-Ed Alas! Turning out to be the king of thieves: Power and Electricity...

Alas! Turning out to be the king of thieves: Power and Electricity theft up to 80% in PESCO

Loss feeders enjoy a Rs.40 billion hit, due to Electricity theft in DISCO’s

Electricity
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Simran Shoaib |

Agitated and afraid, the people of this country try to look forward to a change, considerable reforms or in simple words implementation of the promised actions on the part of our leaders, whoever it may be.

This novel really is uprising further, as per witnessed effects of the quantum of power theft of Rs.59.174 billion, registered in nine electricity power distribution companies from July 2007- March 2018.

Speaking as a non-partisan, people do not demand a revolution overnight, however, expecting to see evolution unfold is one of our basic rights. As a citizen journalist, I owe myself and others to report the misdeeds being conducted which require a critical eye, so that they may be resolved.

It was informed that a loss of Rs.40 billion occurred in Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO), in the last six months due to the supply of electricity surpassing 80%, at the hands of loss feeders, on the direction of Power division.

Read more: Has the curse of load shedding returned?

In order to understand how electricity theft occurs one must have an understanding of the electricity distribution system in Pakistan. Electricity theft in Pakistan, more commonly known as Kunda system in the local language, occurs usually by installing hooks or iron chains for illegal connections. Electricity is generated at various power stations, which are generally located at distances from the load centers or end-users. It is then transported to end-users through wires and conductors. The distribution lines of the utilities lie open and hence the chances exist of consumers’ illegally abstracting electric power through by-passing or even with tempering the meter.

There are nine distribution companies operating in the country including, Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (IESCO), Lahore Electricity Supply Company (LESCO), Gujranwala Electric Power Company (GEPCO), Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company (FESCO), Multan Electric Power Company (MEPCO), Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO), Quetta Electricity Supply Company (QESCO), Hyderabad Electricity Supply Company (HESCO) and Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC). These distribution companies are public monopolies with the exception of KESC, which has been privatized since 2005. The area of operation for each distribution company is directed by the government and each possesses different social, political and economic condition, which is why the extent of theft differs in each district.

On Wednesday, 11th July 2018, a meeting was held among the Sub-Committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Power, in order to discuss upon the line losses and theft of electricity. Among other agendas addressed in this meeting were suggestions regarding the technical and administrative measures to eliminate theft in various DISCO’s, as well as the viability of outsourcing of high-loss feeders.

In this meeting arranged by the convener of the committee, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, discussions unfolded, that all the DISCO’s were, in fact, autonomous as they were incorporated under the Companies Ordinance 1984, active even now. They were being governed by their Board of Directors, the government of Pakistan is one of its duly representatives, and a major shareholder as well.

It was recommended that only one hour of power supply in the morning and evening should be given free of charge to such areas.

Furthermore, the labor laws for corporate entities would supersede the regulations made by the DISCO. All the hiring and firing, disciplinary proceedings would be under the order, as per Labor Law’s.

Due to the burgeoning efficiencies, the power sector of this country has been striking the national exchequer since 2007. This novel really is uprising further, as per witnessed effects of the quantum of power theft of Rs.59.174 billion, registered in nine electricity power distribution companies from July 2007- March 2018.

Read more: Industrialists welcome Rs. 10 billion relief to public through cuts in…

Via manipulation of electricity units, these DISCO’s have subjected the final consumers to Rs.30 to 40 billion, overbilling in one year. Unfolding this news in the documents of “Quantum of Theft of Electricity in nine Public Sector Discos”, the general public should be infuriated.

As per these documents, in the first 9 months starting 2017, the biggest electricity theft took place, amounting to 1.921 billion units.

Let’s divide each distribution region into a district and rank them based on their incurred electricity thefts for the time period of July 2007-March 2008.

DISTRICT 1

PESCO supplies the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with electricity as well as some portions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. However, it is one of the biggest loss bearing entities in the present time, due to the case of robbing electricity. It comes on the first place with a theft of 1.92 billion units and a loss-incurring of Rs. 23.489 billion.

As a citizen journalist, I owe myself and others to report the misdeeds being conducted which require a critical eye, so that they may be resolved. 

DISTRICT 2

Sindh is ranked at the 2nd place for being the highest electricity theft bearer, with 1.126 billion units being stolen in the first 9 months of the fiscal year of 2017-2018. The worth of these units is summed up to Rs.16.505 billion.

Read more: Pakistan’s Water Crisis makes Kalabagh an “inevitable” reality, assures CJP

If accounted for in detail, Sindh consists of 2 Discos, which supply electricity to all the inhabitants excluding Karachi through HESCO, Hyderabad Electric Supply Company and SEPCO, Sukkar Electric Power Company.

DISTRICT 3

In Punjab, the sizable electricity theft of Rs.12.429 billion has secured the 3rd position. Punjab has 5 Discos, IESCO, LESCO, MEPCO, GEPCO, and FESCO.

LESCO, a supplier of electricity to Lahore, had to undergo a loss of 6.656 billion with a 546 million electricity units, in the theft. MEPCO for Multan, maintains 286 million units of electricity valuing Rs.3.201 billion have been stolen.

FESCO for Faisalabad, underwent a theft of Rs.128 million electricity units, GEPCO, Gujranwala, 80 million units with a loss of Rs.1.002 billion, leaving IESCO, Islamabad at the last position of 16 million units being stolen.

The water crisis is increasing day by day, to the point that donations are required and at this rate, dams cannot be completed.

DISTRICT 4

Balochistan consists of QUESCO, Quetta Electric Supply Company, which was involved in the theft of 460 million electricity units, valued at Rs.6.751 billion, in the first nine months of the outgoing fiscal year.

Read more: Young Karachiites pledge to save electricity and make their city clean

THE AWAKENING

Realizing the theft of electricity, the Minister or Energy (Power) awakened from their slumber to write letters expressing concerns in this matter. Awais Ahmed Khan, the Minister for Energy (Power), wrote letters throughout May 2018, requesting the Chief Ministers of all the provinces to help the Centre in controlling electricity theft being borne for such a long period.

In addition, he urged the Chief Ministers to devise a strategy to finalize details in order to resolve this issue, which is the cause of an additional Rs.10 billion, per month to the circular debt.

However, the losses remained the same, standing up to 19%.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Khursheed Shah suggested that the power distribution companies should eradicate 66 KV Grid Stations, as they were unfit and added to the line losses.

The veterans of our country have stepped forward in the hope of creating a positive example be deciding to pay 5% of their pensions for the dam making project.

Expressing his grief, Mr. Shah, further questioned, “It is the negligence of distribution companies then why are consumers are penalized to recover billions of rupees in terms of line losses?”

The committee was of the view that the ministry of energy should evolve a mechanism to reduce an extra burden on the consumers.

Read more: Government’s set to increase electricity prices

REFORMS

The subcommittee of the Senate Standing Committee had formulated 18 recommendations to check line losses and theft.

It also asked the Ministry of Power, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NAPTA) and various distribution companies to report to this committee.

An attempt at making things right

The subcommittee on Wednesday, 11th July 2018, under the chairmanship of Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak and accentuated that boards of all the power distribution companies should be made independent.

These were to be made autonomous in regard to carrying out 22-hour- load-shedding in areas where power theft was reported, high.

It was recommended that only one hour of power supply in the morning and evening should be given free of charge to such areas.

 “Theft and line losses had been inflicting Rs40 billion losses to Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) over the last few months”, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak.

Other officials of the Ministry of Power commented, that several power issues could be solved by bringing about reforms in the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA)’s, working.

Through a video conference, the subcommittee was informed that a public sector company of China had shown interest in investing $1 billion in PESCO on the basis of 50% profit.

The subcommittee directed to share the proposal with NEPRA and the DISCO.

  • Recommendations:

 

  1. The boards of distribution companies should be made autonomous and there should be no political pressure.
  2. There should be no electricity to the power pilferers and the CEOs should be free to carry out load-shedding as per recovery and line losses.
  3. Other recommendations included outsourcing of metering, billing, and collection of bill amount, converting all bare conductors in high loss areas to underground cables, an appointment of Board of Directors on merit and at least two years of CEOs’ posting tenure.
  4. The ministry to prepare an offset plan on the DISCOs and present it to the provincial government (PESCO) to be taken as a test case.
  5. 200 police officials and two magistrates should be given to DISCOs and their expenses to be paid by the companies.
  6. A Change in Electricity Act/Consumer Service manual of NEPRA with respect to Electricity; theft period of a maximum of three months should be changed to a maximum of 24 months.
  7. All consumers including residential consumers having 3 phase electricity connection above 5 KW to have two-part tariff and display power factor which should be not less than 0.90.
  8. All Operation SDOs to monitor the load on the feeders in the grid. Consumer load phase in balance to be adjusted through jumpers at the metering point.
  9. Monitoring of abnormal activities through software.
What does the future hold?

Such a big loss is deemed unacceptable, as in such cases the burden falls upon the consumers of the electricity.

Sindh is ranked at the 2nd place for being the highest electricity theft bearer, with 1.126 billion units being stolen in the first 9 months of the fiscal year of 2017-2018. The worth of these units is summed up to Rs.16.505 billion.

The load shedding which our country faces, has to be done on an equitable basis as directed by the Supreme Court, in a Suo Motto Case.

Looking at the statistics from Trading Economics, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Gross Domestic Product per Capita of 1222.52 in USD, the Gross National Product of Rs.13081028, and this economy cannot further bear any more losses.

Read more: Shehbaz Sharif presents PML-N’s manifesto; offers promises and hope

Thus treating this issue as a matter of grave concern is the dire need at hand today. People must think to themselves as to how our leaders are investing the national exchequers and instead of only questioning, they must come up with solutions.

For instance, check the cost-benefit analysis of government based projects. By investing in projects which lead to mere short-term benefit, or serves the purpose of a luxury then that’s not wise. In fact, projects must be invested in, after a complete examination of the outcome of marginal utility. The overall impact must be seen.

The water crisis is increasing day by day, to the point that donations are required and at this rate, dams cannot be completed. On the other hand, the problem with underground sewage systems is leading to problems like sinkholes.

In just this month, Rs.1.93 billion have been embezzled in a luxury car scam, at the hands of various ministers, which was revealed in reports handed down, regarding the Ministry of Water and Power.

If Pakistani government is collecting Rs.20 million every day, still that’s not enough. The veterans of our country have stepped forward in the hope of creating a positive example be deciding to pay 5% of their pensions for the dam making project.

I commend the accountability bureaus which have finally awakened from their slumber and are conducting detailed investigations on those who continue to steal from the general public.

However, who will act upon their promises and to what extent, only time will tell following the General Elections of 25th July 2018.

Simran Shoaib has studied Media Studies and is working as a Research Analyst at Global Village Space. 


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