You ViewsVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 6

Power pilferage

The Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) imposes taxes in the form of fuel price adjustments (FPAs) on electricity bills every month. It is crucial to highlight that these taxes are burdening law-abiding consumers who regularly pay their utility bills on time.

Simultaneously, there is a concerning lack of proactive measures by the distribution companies (Discos) to combat electricity theft. A glaring example is that of Hayatabad Town in Peshawar, where authorities claim a 100 per cent recovery rate, while simultaneously considering it to be the area with the highest incidence of electricity theft. The area residents pay their bills only for the allocated connection from Pesco, but they have unauthorised direct connections from electricity lines, powering the major energy-consuming appliances, such as air conditioners and electric heaters.

Any efforts to report such incidents entails significant challenges. Regional offices who are responsible for handling complaints against electricity theft seem to redirect individuals in an endless loop, discouraging genuine complainants. The lack of intention to address these issues is evident, as officials associated with these offices seem to have some under-the-table ties with power thieves. While there is a centralised toll-free number for lodging complaints, there are serious concerns regarding the confidentiality of the information provided. Complaints lodged through this channel may be shared with the accused party, compromising the safety and privacy of the complainant.

In the light of these challenges, the authorities should reconsider the approach. Instead of burdening responsible consumers with additional taxes, efforts should be directed towards stringent actions against electricity thieves. The potential recovery of billions of rupees from these unlawful activities could significantly benefit the system. This proactive approach is especially crucial given the perceived reluctance of companies like Pesco and others to address the issue.

Naqib Ullah