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ISLAMABAD: With its term nearing end, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has blamed the four chief ministers of the provinces for not helping eradicate electricity theft.

On Tuesday, the Centre asked the four chief ministers to extend their personal support to address the menace of electricity theft in their provinces that had caused over Rs50 billion losses to the distribution companies in the first nine months of the current financial year.

In identical letters to the chief ministers, Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Leghari complained that the provinces had not been responsive to his efforts to minimise electricity theft and none of the four chief ministers had agreed to meet him over the past few months to resolve the long-standing issue.

Federal power minister seeks meetings with four chief ministers to discuss the issue

The minister recalled that he had sought the chief ministers’ support on March 20 over the “dire need of support from law enforcing agencies for safeguarding staff and installations of power distribution companies during crackdown operation on pilferers and prompt registration of FIRs for curbing the theft and proceeding against the culprits”.

The minister said he had sought time from the chief ministers for meetings to discuss and finalise the details but “incidentally, despite follow-up with your office, this meeting has not taken place”.

Mr Leghari also shared the details of power theft going on at every feeder and region of each province. The accompanying data suggested Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the highest rate of power theft among the four provinces despite having the smallest network.

He asked the chief ministers to personally intervene into the matter and spare time for meetings for an in-depth briefing on the situation and to discuss how this issue could be addressed. The minister requested the provinces to make technical and human resources available to launch a campaign against electricity theft.

He said (electricity worth) about Rs50 billion had been pilfered by consumers in the four provinces between July 2017 and March 2018. KP with the Peshawar Electric Supply Company topped the list with Rs23.48bn worth of power theft during this period.

He said Rs6.6bn worth of electricity was stolen during this period in the area covered by Lahore Electric Supply Company, Rs3.03bn in Multan Electric Supply Company’s area, Rs1.5bn in the areas of Faisalabad Electric Supply Company and Rs1.002bn in the Gujranwala Electric Supply Company’s area. Electricity worth Rs220 million was stolen in Islamabad. The total amount lost to theft in these areas was worked out at Rs12.35bn.

During the nine months, Rs6.78bn and Rs9.72bn power thefts were reported in Hyderabad and Sukkur areas, respectively. The total losses in Sindh were estimated at Rs16.5bn. Similarly, Rs6.75bn power theft was reported in Balochistan areas serviced by the Quetta Electric Supply Company.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2018