Centre asks K-P to take over electricity firms

Province fails to support action against rampant power theft


Our Correspondent April 20, 2024
PHOTO: FILE

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ISLAMABAD:

The federal government has asked the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to take over electricity supply in the jurisdictions of Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (Pesco) and Tribal Areas Electricity Supply Company (Tesco) if the province fails to provide support for action against the elements involved in power theft.

In a letter sent to K-P chief minister, Minister of Power Division Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said that Pesco and Tesco were operating in the K-P province and the two organisations were among the low-performing power distribution companies (DISCOs), contributing to the ever-increasing circular debt.

During the current financial year, the two DISCOs are anticipated to incur a combined loss of Rs188 billion, which includes under-recovery and losses above the threshold set by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

The critical high-loss areas identified in the Pesco region include DI Khan, Bannu, Karak, Kohat, Shangla and ex-FR regions.

Tesco operates in tribal areas that face a serious problem of lack of recoveries and absence of electricity meters, resulting in an anticipated loss of Rs51 billion in the current financial year.

“The sustainability of the power sector is becoming questionable due to such revenue bleeding and resource depletion. To address the issue of rampant theft, reduce losses and improve recovery, the government has launched a nationwide anti-theft campaign,” the minister said.

The success of this campaign depends on the wholehearted support of the provincial government and its authorities, which is currently lacking. “In this regard, your specific interest is requested to ensure that police support is available in Pesco areas, enabling the successful implementation of the anti-theft campaign to eradicate the menace of theft.”

There is the challenge of a weak government writ in the operational jurisdiction of Tesco.

Two possible solutions have been proposed – either the K-P government prepares a comprehensive plan to support Tesco in its recovery and meter installation drive or the provincial government takes over the supply of power in the region covered by the company.

In this regard, the prime minister has recently constituted a committee, headed by the minister of defence, for consultation and interaction with the provincial government and other stakeholders.

The committee will commence deliberations with the provincial government very soon and intends to visit the province to finalise a sustainable plan of action.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2024.

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