As the national power grid creaks under the weight of increasing electricity demand and financial woes, a number of top-level industry defaulters continue to make use of uninterrupted power supply to expand their industrial empires.
An official list – a copy of which is available with the Express Investigation Cell (EIC) – suggests that powerful industrialists have colluded with authorities concerned to ensure that they receive uninterrupted electricity for their industrial units without paying anything to the utility companies.
This covert and illegal collusion is also said to be one of the major sources of electricity theft in the country, costing the national exchequer billions of rupees every month. Despite the mishandling, none of the power distribution companies have invoked the Electricity Act 1910 to recover the outstanding dues from the defaulters — which have now reached billions of rupees.
The Act states that authorities will register a case against defaulters for the recovery of outstanding dues to avoid financial losses to the company. The data made available to The Express Tribune shows that instead of taking action against the perpetrators, authorities have compromised the national interest of the country for petty gains and continue to provide the defaulters every possible window of safety.
Other than the huge default on payments, Pakistan’s line losses range between 35-42%. Such staggering rates of line losses exemplify the power sector’s weakness and pose a question on the credibility of the authorities concerned.
The significant size of the defaulted amount is enough to prove that the National Transmission & Dispatch Company (NTDC) and other departments concerned wilfully colluded with chronic defaulters to steal electricity.
Meanwhile, Water and Power Minister Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar has vowed to monitor these pilferages to bring line losses to an acceptable level, besides pledging to recover the defaulted payments. He appears determined to plug in loopholes in the power sector to overcome load shedding.
“I am working on the energy crisis on a day-to-day basis and putting in every possible effort to overcome load shedding to give relief to the people. I will also make sure that the NTDC recovers every penny from the defaulters,” Mukhtar said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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