PESHAWAR - Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Saturday explicitly warned that those who are involved in power theft would be dealt indiscriminately as the debt incurred by electricity pilferage has overburdened the country’s economy.

Addressing a press briefing at CM House here, he said there would be a zero tolerance policy for power pilferers and those who have acquired electricity through ‘Kundas’ (illegal electricity connection) would be dealt with iron hands and indiscriminately. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, KP Information Minister Shoukat Yousafazi and concerned officials were also present on the occasion.

Omar Ayub said circular debt under electricity losses have been reached to an alarming figure of 1300 billion that is a matter of grave concern owing to its perils on country’s economy.  He informed monthly losses of PESCO have been reached to Rs4 billion adding among the losses Rs3.7 billion were from Bannu region and certain areas of Mardan and Peshawar valley.

He said consumers that are regularly paying their electricity bills are affected by forced loadshedding due to line losses and electricity theft. He said they had been directed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to devise a comprehensive plan and a result-oriented strategy to resolve the issue aiming facilitation of regular bill payers and poor. He said it was observed that some officials of electricity departments are acting in collusion with power thieves to install Kundas. He said they would be taken to task for their misdeeds.

Omar Ayub said 8000 FIRs have been lodged against power pilferers in Punjab while officials of power distribution companies there have been served charge-sheets.

He also urged people to remove their illegal electricity connection and pay electricity bills through regular meter adding an audit team has been formed to look into complaints of consumers and after analysing veracity of grievances they would be provided installment facility. The minister informed media that people would get relief by curbing Kunda culture while duration of forced loadshedding would be gradually decreased in areas that would show increased revenue generation and decrease line losses.

He said 3000 kilometre Aerial Bundled Cables would be installed in KP to end the illegal practice of Kunda Culture besides making investments to improve working of power distribution and metering system.

CM FOR UTILISING HYDRO POWER FOR KP’S ECONOMIC REVIVAL

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has said that hydro power generation can become the engine for economic revival and growth of the province.  He said he was under tremendous national obligations to serve the poor segment of the society.  “His government was going all out to give relief to the people in all social sectors,” he added.

He was presiding over a high-level meeting which was attended by Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, Provincial Minister Akbar Ayub, Adviser to CM on Energy Himayat Ullah, Secretary Energy, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Chief PESCO and others at Chief Minister House Peshawar.

The meeting focused on the infrastructure development, the under utilisation of the existing system, wheeling of electricity, nomination of board’s members through consultation with the provincial government and the six-month widow available to the PESCO for the upgradation of system, the connectivity of already available electricity to the national grid, the overbilling, the shift in policy for the consumption of electricity produced in the local areas both for the domestic and industrial consumption locally and the project of waste to energy conversion.

The meeting thoroughly discussed these issues and agreed to settle them both at federal level. Mahmood Khan asked the federal minister to work out a mechanism that could facilitate the provision of already available power to be used by the province both for the purpose of domestic use, industrial growth, trade and commercial activities at local level. The Malakand-III project and others of the likes could be run on these lines.

The locally produced electricity could be extended to Malakand and other areas where the WAPDA could not lay down transmission lines to connect these power stations to the national grid.  The priority should be provision of locally produced electricity for consumption at local level, he added.

The CM said he had discussed the issues of the province with Prime Minister Imran Khan with focus on giving relief to the people and upgrading both the infrastructure and system of electricity.  The province, he added, has the capacity to generate beyond the required amount of electricity for the whole of the country.  He had already informed him of the crises and the issues confronted by the province.  He said the production of electricity would yield three dimensional benefits for the province and the people, he added.

He said the electricity production would boost industrialisation and business activities, bring productivity to the agriculture sector largely concentrated in the rural areas and would generate maximum job opportunities for the youth.  He said his government wanted the stability and consistency in the growth at rural level to trap the majority portion of the population for contributing in productive sectors and strengthening local economies.

Mahmood Khan said PM Imran Khan has directed him and the federal minister for energy to work out a mechanism to give relief to the poor which should be the centre of all governmental activities and to effectively discourage power theft and emancipate the people from overbilling.  He thanked PM Khan for his keenness in resolving the longstanding issues of the province especially the progress on outstanding dues on net hydel power generation.

He also appreciated the federal government for commitment to resolve the problems of the province as expeditiously as possible.

The federal minister assured all-out support to the provincial government in the system upgradation, improved transmission lines, and holding of a meeting of all stakeholders to find out permanent solution to all outstanding issues.  He also talked about the federal government plan for the energy corridor including Bhasha Dam, Dasu Dam, Swat, Chitral and Hazara and the interconnectivity of the whole system.  He stated he was tasked by the PM to settle all issues of the province as expeditiously as possible.