ISLAMABAD - The government on Monday informed Senate’s Standing Committee on Water and Power that electricity theft and line losses have devoured Rs150billion during the outgoing financial year, 2012-2013, and that the new government has initiated a full-fledged crackdown on power pilfers.

The committee, which met under Senator Zahid Khan, once again directed that no one should be exempted from “this curse” of electricity loadshedding be it GHQ, president, prime minister and governor houses, chief minister secretariats, Parliament, minister enclaves and residences of army generals. It ordered that only hospitals and defence related departments and organisations be given exemption from loadshedding.

The committee members noted that the government was not carrying out uniform loadshedding, as some parts of the country were facing up to 24 hours of power outages while in others there was “zero” loadshedding; therefore, the government should conduct equal loadshedding in the country.

Secretary for Ministry of Water and Power Saifullah Chattah informed the committee that around 23,770 FIRs had been registered against power pilfers last year, but only three persons were convicted and fined a measly Rs5000 each. He said the government had issued the amended laws and that a full-fledged crackdown on power pilfers had already been initiated.

The secretary said the power theft and line losses amounted to Rs150billion during the last financial year 2012-13 and that it would be brought down. He said the United States would support construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam and World Bank would lend assistance for Dhaso dam which would add 3000-4000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid within the next three to four years. The committee showed displeasure over absence of federal minister and state minister of water and power from the meeting and issued instructions for their presence in next meetings. Committee chief Zahid Khan directed the ministry to immediately release funds for Malakand grid station; otherwise the committee would take action as per the law.

The committee also demanded to appoint permanent officials in the Ministry of Water and Power in order to resolve power crisis in the country.

Senator Nisar Mohammad Khan said the government should resolve complaints of NTDC officers (from grade 17 to 19) regarding their promotions.