Electricity theft though hooking (kunda system) is one of the major nuisances in the increasing circular debt that now stands at Rs. 1.4 trillion. The estimated cost of power theft during 2017-18 is over Rs. 53 billion. The reason for the lack of reforms in the power sector is the involvement of a strong lobby in electricity theft. The public in connivance with the Wapda officials find it easy to tamper with the meters or take a direct hook from the poles. Even the digital meters have now been tampered with payment of some amount to the experts who are sometimes found to be Wapda officials. Earlier, the Power Division engaged with the provinces on the creation of special task forces with the support of provincial Governments, local authorities and law enforcement agencies for a crackdown against electricity theft. The recent crackdown against power theft has not brought the desirable results.

Now the Government has planned to obtain a loan of $900 from the Asian Development Bank for Smart Metering Programme also called Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) with the hope of ensuring accurate billing, improved collection and theft reduction. In this system, ‘smart electronic devices’ are installed at various points of the electricity supply chain. The monitoring offices would detect the quantity of electricity consumption from meters and electricity to that area. With the detection of an imbalance in supply and consumption, the relevant electricity company would further narrow down to catch power thieves. However, this system is opposed by the distribution companies because of involvement of long-term risks.

There is a need to arouse the national spirit to overcome this scourge. The incentive based information system must be developed to help the Wapda officials in arresting the power thieves. The active support of media, academicians, LG representatives and religious scholars must be sought to raise awareness against power theft .

M SAYYAD KHAN,

Peshawar, January 23.