Has the crackdown on electricity theft been a success?

Has the crackdown on electricity theft been a success?

The Senate Standing Committee on Power convened a meeting at the Old PIPS Hall in Parliament Lodges on Thursday, with Senator Saifullah Abro presiding as the Chair. During the meeting, the Senate Committee commended the Power Division for its prompt response to combat line losses and electricity theft in various DISCOs (Distribution Companies).

Arshad Majid, Additional Secretary of the Power Division, reported that around Rs. 1 billion in recoveries had been achieved in recent days. Additionally, the Power Division has reorganized the officers within various DISCOs to enhance efficiency.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Saifullah Abro, suggested that the Power Division should also consider reassigning CEOs of DISCOs and members of the Boards of Directors of various authorities, especially those suspected of acting improperly and weakening the power sector's capabilities. Secretary of the Power Division, Rashid Langrial, had previously mentioned in a tweet that the interim government's campaign against power theft was on track to exceed Rs. 1 billion in recoveries.

However, this amount is relatively small when compared to the transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, which reportedly exceeded Rs. 520 billion in the previous fiscal year (FY23). Langrial stated in his tweet that the anti-theft campaign was an ongoing learning process, with plans for a fully-developed model by the end of the month. Furthermore, data revealed that between September 7th and September 14th, the caretaker government had recovered Rs. 951 million from individuals involved in power theft.

During this period, 490 individuals were arrested, and 4,241 First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed against the culprits. This recovery amount had grown significantly from the initial Rs. 14 million recorded on September 7th, with expectations of surpassing Rs. 1 billion soon.