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LAHORE: The Lahore Electric Supply Company has approached the Punjab Chief Secretary for deployment of a dedicated police force to protect its field staff from increasing attacks from power thieves and defaulters.

The country’s largest power distribution company (in terms of load consumption, revenue and number of consumers) continues to face severe resistance from influential groups like farmers and lawyers on the issue of recovery and power theft. Several incidents of scuffles, quarrels etc continue to take place in the areas of Kasur, Sheikhupura, Okara and surroundings of Lahore. In a recent clash between lawyers and Lesco staff in a courtroom of Kot Radha Kishan (Kasur), several people from both sides were injured on the issue of serving detection bill to a lawyer.

“Your kind attention is drawn towards the law and order situation in the Lesco’s Kasur, Okara, Sheikhupura circles and surrounding areas of Lahore city, where Lesco officials are facing very tough circumstances as groups of general and agricultural tube well consumers are not only involved in theft of electricity but also thrash company employees. Police force is not cooperating with Lesco staff who try to disconnect illegal connections due to which these criminals are encouraged further steal electricity and torture Lesco employees,” reads a letter the Lesco administration wrote to chief secretary some days ago.

Writes letter to chief secretary, ready to bear force expenses

It says that the authority available with Lesco officials against electricity thieves is to seek police help for lodging FIRs against the criminals. Hundreds of applications for lodging FIRs have been submitted to the respective police stations but many of them are lying pending because of poor response by the police and involvement of influential people of the area.

“If an FIR is registered, it is found to be defective during investigation. Not a single example is available in which someone was arrested on the allegations of theft of electricity. Whenever Lesco officials go for removal of unauthorized connections, armed persons create hurdles, harass and physically torture them in performing official duties. We are unable to perform legitimate national duties due to non-cooperative behavior of police resulting in heavy revenue loss.

“In view of this situation, it is requested to depute and leave dedicated police force and designated police stations at the disposal of Lesco to assist teams assigned for curbing electricity theft and removal of un-authorized connections,” it said, adding that the experience of deputing special force has already proved very successful and result oriented in the service areas of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO).

“In this connection, Lesco is ready to bear expenses of this special force in lieu of performing this designated duty,” the letter offers.

The company had earlier approached the Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) in April this year for placing two police stations, one each in Deepalpur and Kasur -- at its disposal to enable it to launch a grand operation against power thieves, especially in high-loss areas.

“There are countless cases where people steal electricity through direct hooks on Lesco wires/cables and manhandle field officials. But literally we have no cooperation from police,” a senior Lesco official told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2017