LAHORE - Following the formation of a taskforce to deal with power pilferage, the provincial government of Punjab has formed squads in each district that would not only nab power pilferers but also gas stealers at the industrial, commercial and domestic levels.

At the head of a provincial secretary, the squads at the district level will act in coordination with each other as well as police and other departments directly assisting in the crackdown on power and gas thefts that had caused losses of billion of rupees to the state economy.

The squads will start with an action against factories, plazas and mills and end up recovering monetary losses from those found stealing power and gas within three months.

The districts of Kasur, Okara, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Muridke, Chunian, Pattoki, Manga Mandi, Narang Mandi and Narowal, where theft of electricity and gas is at the peak, will come under the first phase of action.

It has come to the notice of authorities that both in urban and rural areas of these districts theft of power through hook-up to high voltage power cables is going unchecked since long. As a matter of fact, use of this hook-up system, commonly known as kunda system, is depressingly common in rural areas in evenings when tube-wells are operated for irrigation purposes.

As to Lahore, a survey finds energy theft going on at a comparatively lesser degree just because of inspections carried out by franchises of Lahore Electric Supply Company at the industrial, commercial and domestic side on a monthly basis.

A secret plan has also been prepared to lay hands on big fish in the ocean of energy theft.

Sources say the Punjab government in collaboration with the central authorities has been planning to take action against staffers and officers of Wapda helping power consumers steal electricity.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government is taking keen interest in engaging Korean Waters Resources Corporation in the 120-MW Taunsa power project, appreciating its offer made to assist in the energy sector.

A feasibility report of the project has been prepared, while the process of awarding the contract is being completed expeditiously. The government is also considering availing help of the foreign firm in management of water of rivers and canals.

A representative delegation of Korean Waters Resources Cooperation met with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday. During talks, the chief minister invited Korean investors in the energy sector in Punjab and promised them every facility.

The chief minister underlined the need for early completion of the power project, saying the government had been going to modernize the energy department for its capacity building.

Chief Executive Officer of Korean Waters Resources Corporation, Waqar Ahmed Khan, Deputy Chief, Hyukpark, Chief Financial and Commercial Officer, Haksop Han, Energy Minister Ch Sher Ali Khan, Provincial Irrigation Minister Yawar Zaman, secretaries Energy and Irrigation and other concerned officers were present in the meeting.

CEO of the Corporation, Waqar Ahmed Khan, said Korean investors were serious in investment in power projects in Punjab.