Despite Free Scheme, Electricity Theft Amounts to Rs 1,600 Crores in Punjab Over the Last Year 

Rozana Spokesman

News, Punjab

Issue of Electricity Theft Remains a Pressing Concern


CHANDIGARH: Despite the Punjab government's  initiative to provide 300 units of free electricity to households across the state, electricity theft remains a persistent and costly issue. The unlawful act of pilfering electricity has not only posed a challenge for the state government but has also burdened the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).

Electricity theft, facilitated by both residents and, shockingly, some electricity meter readers, has reportedly led to losses amounting to a staggering Rs 1,600 crores in the past year. What is more concerning is that the interference of local leaders has hindered Powercom (PSPCL) from taking effective action against these power thieves.

A Recent Report highlights that residents in Punjab are resorting to electricity theft in a bid to capitalize on the free electricity scheme. The methods employed for electricity theft have evolved over time, with people now engaging meter readers in this illicit activity. Despite consuming substantial amounts of electricity, some households have received bills reflecting consumption of less than 600 units over two months, pointing to meter reading manipulation with the collusion of Powercom's meter readers.

In the past year alone, approximately 2,200 lakh units of electricity have been surreptitiously siphoned off in Punjab using this method, accumulating to an estimated Rs 1,600 crore in financial losses. In response, Powercom has initiated action against 40 meter readers in recent months due to discrepancies in power units. These meter readers had tampered with the meters, resulting in fraudulent readings. The detection of meter readers involved in theft occurred during inspections conducted by Powercom's enforcement teams.

Of particular concern, according to Powercom officials, is that the incidence of electricity theft has led to an increase in losses amounting to Rs 300 crore. The free electricity scheme has spurred higher electricity consumption in Punjab, with the overall power consumption loss recorded at 11.60 percent during this period. Among the various circles in the state, Tarn Taran circle experienced the highest loss at 34.67 percent, while Sri Muktsar Sahib and Sangrur circles recorded the lowest losses at 25.05 percent and 18.44 percent, respectively. Additionally, Ferozepur witnessed a power consumption loss of 31.95 percent, and Amritsar Sub Urban recorded a loss of 26.78 percent.

The issue of electricity theft remains a pressing concern, not only impacting the financial stability of the PSPCL but also posing a significant challenge to the state's efforts to provide essential services to its residents. Addressing this issue effectively will be crucial to ensure the sustainability of the free electricity scheme and the equitable distribution of electricity resources in Punjab.