• Ex-lawmakers among 200 found involved in pilferage
• Revenue officials being empowered for recovery of dues

LAHORE: In a multipronged strategy to curb power pilferage after a massive increase in electricity tariff, hundreds of officers and heads of entire field formations of the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) up to Grade 19 were reshuffled on Fri­day, as 200 more connections being used for power theft by influential people, including ex-MNAs, were detected on the second day of a crackdown in Punjab’s capital and neighbouring areas.

Also, it was decided in a meeting presided over by Lahore commissioner that big dafaulters should be caught first and revenue officers be given additional powers to recover electricity dues, while FIRs would be registered immediately not only agai­nst electricity thieves but also against officials of power utilities if found involved in facilitating power theft.

In a bid to create social deterrence against power theft, it was decided that announcements would be made from mosques in tehsils and villages regarding the power pilferage and action taken thereof.

Sharing details of massive reshuffle in Lesco with Dawn, an official source explained, “We have transferred officers / heads of our entire field formations — SDOs, XENs and SEs. The total number of the officers transferred is 351 that includes 21 SEs, 89 XENs and 238 SDOs. Even three field store managers have also been transferred. However, there is no proposal to transfer the officers from Grade 20 to 22.”

The officers transferred also included those directly or indirectly involved in facilitating the people in stealing electricity, Dawn has learnt.

“The core objective behind these massive transfers is to ensure ending long association of the officers in their respective service areas so that they cannot provide facilitation (if any) to anyone in stealing electricity or any other wrongdoings,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

Lesco teams, meanwhile, detected 200 connections being used for power theft worth millions of rupees in various service areas and charged consumers. Those involved in the power theft included a former nazim, former national and provincial assembly lawmakers and a councillor.

“We will also take action against all those officers if found involved in facilitating people to steal electricity,” Lesco CEO Shahid Haider said in a statement.

On the other hand, Lahore Commis­sioner Mohammad Ali Randhawa, while presiding over a meeting, declared that swift operations would be laun­ched in critical areas (22 sub-divisions falling within service jursdiction of 830 high-loss feeders of Lesco) in the first phase.

“FIRs will be registered immediately against electricity thieves and defaulters,” the commissioner said, reiterating that major dafaulters should be caught in the first phase of these operations.

The meeting also took decisions about granting additional powers to revenue officers to recover dues from Lesco defaulters and making announcements from mosques about the actions being taken.

Besides, for the maintenance of transmission lines and grid stations, National Transmission and Despatch Company Limited (NTDC) Managing Director Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan directed engineers of asset management (north) to develop a maintenance plan to improve reliability of the system and ensure smooth power supply during winter and when weather conditions are adverse.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2023

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