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RAHIM YAR KHAN: Theft of electricity meters is on the rise in different sub-divisions of the Multan Electric Power Supply Company (Mepco) since the start of summer as more than 200 meters were stolen from poles in the city during the last few months, Dawn has learnt.

According to Mepco sources, such thefts are usually committed in connivance with serving or ex-Mepco employees, including meter readers and inspectors etc.

Following the theft a consumer has to get reinstalled a meter against a demand notice of Rs18,000 for a three phase connection and Rs3,000 for single phase.

In some cases, these stolen meters were used for power theft, the sources said.

Meter thefts rise during summer

Explaining the modus operandi, a source said that a stolen meter was privately installed in place of the actual meter a couple of days after the reading and then ahead of the next reading the actual meter is again put in the place. Thus the actual meter showed less use of electricity to the benefit of the consumer, he added.

City SDO Muhammad Faisal Korai told this correspondent that he had issued a list of seven different consumers who complained of meter theft.

He said that Mepco employees on August 11, detected a bogus stolen meter installed at an internet cafe (Life Net Cafe) in Firdous Market.

The net cafe owner, Eshrat Abbas, admitted that he had got installed the stolen meter by bribing meter reader Raheel Masih, who escaped with the bogus meter, Mr Korai said.

The SDO has filed a report against the suspect with the City A Division police for registration of an FIR under section 462/J and 420 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Korai added that a case (FIR 241/17) had also been lodged against some influential persons in May who were stealing electricity through direct connection (Kunda) from the line.

Similarly, Satellite Town sub division SDO Muhammad Tanveer said he along with Line Superintendent Chaudhry Shabbir caught 10 power thieves red handed and recovered Rs90,000 from them on Aug 13.

Executive Engineer Shehzad Habib Gill also confirmed that complaints regarding meter thefts had increased during summer season and he was investigating the issue.

He said a few months back a sack full of stolen meters was recovered from Jinnah Park near Sadiq Branch Canal.

The black sheep among Mepco employees involved in the illegal practice would not be spared, he added.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2017