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LAHORE: Observance of loadshedding by the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) on high-loss feeders has irked those paying monthly electricity bills. They asked Lesco to disconnect power supply to the defaulters instead of punishing those paying bills.

Lesco is currently carrying out loadshedding of up to six hours in areas falling under 486 high-loss feeders. This is being carried out under a policy to recover dues from defaulters. The 486 feeders included over 200 in Lahore and the remaining in Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Okara.

“If we are paying our electricity bills regularly, then what is our fault? Why should we be treated like defaulters,” deplored a consumer. “Why doesn’t the government disconnect power supply to or punish defaulters only?” he asked.

Under the policy, Lesco is observing loadshedding for two hours daily on feeders facing 10 to 20 per cent loss, four hours on those facing 20 to 30pc loss and six hours on those above 30pc loss. The company claims that it is observing zero loadshedding on 1,233 of the total 1,719 feeders.

“There is no loadshedding in Lahore and other service areas of Lesco, as it is being carried out only in the areas falling under 486 high-loss feeders. The purpose of loadshedding on such feeders is to recover bills from defaulters,” Lesco Chief Executive Officer Mujahid Pervaiz Chattha told Dawn on Wednesday.

He claimed that at present there was zero shortfall in Lesco. When asked why those paying their bills regularly should bear the brunt of defaulters or power thieves, he said the company was taking stern action against defaulters by disconnecting their power supply permanently and getting cases registered against them with police. “The loadshedding on high-loss feeders is a policy matter to recover dues from defaulters and nothing more,” he added.

Talking to Dawn, a former senior official of a power distribution company said that observing loadshedding on high-loss feeders was a positive step. “If high-loss feeders are shut down, consumers paying bills regularly become part of the state’s move against defaulters and power thieves covertly or openly by informing field teams about their unlawful practice,” the official said on anonymity.

He said there were several examples where people individually or led by their local parliamentarians had protested over loadshedding on high-loss feeders.

“But after we briefed them about the situation, they convinced several people to pay bills and submit applications for electricity connections. We then succeeded in bringing them into our billing network. It reflected a massive reduction in line losses,” he claimed.

However, the former official admitted that there should be no loadshedding for those paying bills regularly even if they fell in areas under high-loss feeders. “Logically, it is social injustice with such consumers because why a regular bill payer should bear the brunt of defaulters and electricity thieves,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2018