• Home secretary to lead provincial task force
• High-loss commercial, agricultural, industrial and domestic connections on target
• Police told to lodge FIRs on complaints of power companies

KARACHI: In line with the recently launched plan by the caretaker federal government, its counterpart in Sindh is set to launch a crackdown on power theft across the province that would ‘target high-loss commercial, agriculture, industrial and domestic connections and defaulters’, it emerged on Sunday.

Official sources said that a task force was set up under the chairmanship of the Sindh home secretary against the theft of electricity in the province.

The task force comprising the provincial secretary of energy, representative of power division, additional inspector general of Sindh police, commissioners, DIGs of regions concerned, chief executives of Hesco/Sepco and any other co-opted member will be authorised to devise a strategy and an effective mechanism for a focused and sustainable campaign throughout the province against electricity theft.

It would target high-loss commercial, agriculture, industrial and domestic connections and non-recovery from defaulters. The task force will also monitor, supervise and coordinate the operation/initiative undertaken by the divisional and district enforcement committee (DEC), they added.

Talking to Dawn, Home Secretary Iqbal Memon said that he had reviewed the situation of electricity theft and non-payment of electricity bills in the province and decided to seek assistance of district administration and police to achieve the objective of the task force.

He said that the task force, established on the instruction of the interim prime minister, would take measures to prevent electricity theft and to take legal action against non-payment of electricity bills.

Mr Memon said that an awareness campaign would also be launched for people to make aware that the electricity theft was a crime. “Indiscriminate action will be taken against the electricity thieves and wilful defaulters of the electricity bills,” he added.

He said that the district enforcement committees comprising deputy commissioners and district police officers concerned would be formed.

The home secretary said that the district enforcement committees would meet online on Saturday.

The government plan came days after the caretaker administration in Islamabad announced launching a data-based countrywide crackdown on electricity theft and low recoveries, together causing an estimated annual loss of Rs589 billion.

The action, coming on the heels of nationwide protests against inflated bills, will include removal of corrupt officers across the distribution formations and de-politicisation of the management and boards of distribution companies (Discos).

The office of the Sindh IGP sent a letter to all DIGs asking them to coordinate with Discos and extend all necessary assistance to their teams including registration of FIRs and arrest of people involved in theft of electricity.

Also on Sunday, the Sindh police aligning themselves with the plan, have directed the officers concerned across the province, to stay in touch with electricity supply companies in their areas and assist them in drive against the power theft.

Energy minister visits KE head office

Meanwhile, caretaker Energy Minister Muhammad Ali visited the headquarters of the K-Electric on Sunday and met top management of the company.

He was briefed about efforts which had ‘halved’ the KE’s transmission and distribution losses since the utility’s privatisation. “The minister also met various stakeholders and discussed possible solutions for the monumental challenges faced by KE and power sector. During the briefing, the minister expressed his heartfelt resolve to find solutions for all stakeholders that are sustainable, equitable and possible under the circumstances,” said a statement issued by the KE.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2023

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