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LAHORE: Seeking to have its own police stations to stop power theft and recovery from the defaulters in ‘hard areas’, the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) has sent a legal draft-cum-proposal to the Ministry of Energy (Power Division).

Lesco had earlier written to the power division, the Punjab police, the chief secretary and other quarters concerned but no one paid heed to its requests, resulting in increase in its line losses. In its earlier proposals, especially those moved to the government in 2017, the company had initially proposed handing over of Punjab’s two police stations -- Deepalpur city (Okara district) and another in Kasur which covers the rural areas where it continues to face countless cases of power theft through direct hooks on Lesco wires/cables and manhandling of field officials.

“If the Pakistan Railways can have independent police under command of an IG to deal with around one million passengers or so daily in terms of security or assisting the staff in capturing the free riders, why Lesco which deals with around 4.4 million consumers, cannot have independent police stations to capture a number of power thieves and recover dues from the defaulters,” a senior Lesco official says.

“Therefore, the company on the direction of a committee constituted by the caretaker federal minister for power division prepared and sent a draft proposal to the ministry containing information related to line losses and highlighting the need for police force and benefits,” the official told Dawn on Thursday.

He also cited the example of the irrigation department which also has arrangements to recover dues from the growers.

Company faces staggering losses due to power theft

Asked how many police stations Lesco wants under its exclusive control, the official said the legal draft proposal was based on the initial recommendations/suggestions. “If the government formally allows it, we will then sit with the Punjab government to devise a strategic plan leading to setting up of independent police stations for Lesco,” he added.

Some other power distribution companies (Discos) too have sent similar proposals to the power division’s committee.

In terms of load and revenue, Lesco is the biggest of the 10 Discos in the country and faces difficulties in capturing power thieves and making recovery (worth billions) from the defaulters. It faced tragic incidents including the killing of two SDOs, attack on an SE and thrashing of several officials of its field formations including SDOs and line staff in the past.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018