LAHORE – The Lesco failed to implement mobile metre reading project despite spending millions of rupees on it, continuing its practice of sending inflated electricity bills to thousands of its consumers on every month, it has been learnt.

The top management promised to eliminate over-billing in the company after distribution of android mobiles among meter readers. The company spent Rs90 million on the project in June, 2015. The metre readers were directed to make snaps of the consumed units and the pictures were supposed to be printed at electricity bills to ensue accuracy.

Lesco Chief Engineer Mujahid Islam had claimed in an interview with The Nation on September 2015 that the mobile metre reading system will be introduced in all 163 sub-divisions of the company within a month. “The snapshot system will overcome consumers’ complaints about over-billing. We are working on war-footings on this project,” he had said.

The practice, however, could not be adopted at any sub-division despite passing months, said the sources. The main reason behind the reluctance to implement the process was fear of top management’s about exposure of its inability to control the electricity theft in the company, they added.

The accuracy in bills will expose the actual electricity losses in Lesco which are being said around 30 per cent. The company officially claims 12 per cent losses in its limits.

The project had been started in Samanabad division initially but the practice later avoided due to unknown reason. The meter readers were directed to make snap of the meter through their phones and send it to Lesco IT department which through integrated system will print the picture at electricity bills. The consumers were supposed to match the snap’s reading with their meter reading and complained the company in case of fault.

Lesco BoD Chairman Dr Musadak Malik who is also spokesman for the prime minister is a great advocate of brining reforms in the power distribution company but seems helpless when The Nation contacted him to get input on the issue. He however expressed his resolve to introduce transparency in the billing system gradually.

“We are taking actions and suspended many officials on over-billing complaints. We are also launching an SMS system along with snaps of reading to address the issue. The consumers could press the digit 2 from his/her mobile in case the faulty bill and the message would go into the internal audit system of the company directly,” he said.

The Lesco BoD approved the launching of a website where consumers will be able to see the actual reading of their meters and all other related information,” he said.

“The specially developed website would contain all information and relevant data about load shedding, power supply ratio and revenue collection on all the sub-divisions and feeders of the LESCO. The website would not only prove helpful for the company’s officers concerned but also the consumers. Website’s server would be linked directly with 11kv smart meters without having any human interference, thus making the web information and data more effective and credible,” he explained and added the site would help in controlling over-billing.

A meter reader meanwhile told The Nation that they cannot take picture of meters as low standard basic mobile phones had been provided to them which lacked basic features of photography.

“Some meters are installed on poles, while some are inside buildings and when readers take picture under sun, it blurs, when they take indoor, it is unrecognisable due to darkness,” he claimed and requested not to be quoted.

There are reports that the project of Ministry of Water and Power to print reading pictures on bills is also nonfunctional at other power distribution companies of the country.