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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Federal government to investigate gas and electricity theft

Pakistan's caretaker federal government has embarked on a countrywide crackdown on gas and electricity pilferage

In a determined effort to curb rampant energy theft, Pakistan’s caretaker federal government has embarked on a countrywide crackdown on gas and electricity pilferage. This comprehensive initiative comes as a response to the escalating circular debt crisis within the power sector. In a recent press conference, caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi and Power Minister Energy Muhammad Ali outlined their strategy to tackle this pervasive problem.

Gas Theft Crackdown

One of the significant facets of this anti-theft campaign focuses on gas theft, particularly in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) Islamabad Region, in collaboration with special teams, identified and apprehended gas thieves in 34 localities. This widespread gas theft operation extended beyond the twin cities, uncovering instances in areas like Murree, Taxila, Attock, Fateh Jang, and Kahuta. Astonishingly, the stolen gas was funneled into both factories and residential properties, exacerbating the crisis.

Read More: Will Interim govt succeed in providing relief for consumers on electricity bills?

Electricity Theft Challenge 

Simultaneously, Pakistan is grappling with an alarming issue of electricity theft, which significantly contributes to the staggering losses incurred by the country’s power distribution companies. According to Energy Minister Muhammad Ali, these companies are collectively losing a staggering Rs589 billion annually. Electricity theft and unpaid electricity bills are the chief culprits behind this financial hemorrhage.

Three-Pronged Strategy 

“The interim government has planned a comprehensive three-pronged strategy to deal with the issue of power theft,”

– Power Minister

To address the multifaceted problem of energy theft, the caretaker government has devised a comprehensive three-pronged strategy. First, technology interventions will be introduced in areas where electricity theft ranges from 15 to 30 percent. This includes the installation of advanced meters and surveillance systems. Secondly, the private sector’s involvement will be sought in managing areas with a theft rate between 30 to 60 percent. Thirdly, strict enforcement measures will be implemented in regions where power theft exceeds 60 percent.

Need for Energy Sector Reforms

The Power Minister Energy, Muhammad Ali, emphasized the urgent necessity for reforms within the energy sector. As part of this reform agenda, the government is closely evaluating the performance of the Boards of Directors of power distribution companies, with plans to introduce changes in their management. These efforts are aimed at not only reducing energy theft but also enhancing the overall efficiency and sustainability of Pakistan’s energy sector.

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The caretaker federal government’s crackdown on gas and electricity theft reflects a resolute commitment to tackle a longstanding issue plaguing Pakistan’s energy landscape. With a three-pronged strategy in place, it seeks to root out theft and pave the way for a more sustainable and financially stable energy future.