Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered a crackdown against all people involved in electricity and gas theft and said strict action should be taken against such people without any discrimination and promptly.
He passed the order while presiding over a meeting of the Task Force on the Eradication of Electricity and Gas Theft on Saturday. MNA Waheed Alam Khan, inspector-general of police Punjab, chairman board of directors and executive director Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco), managing director Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and others attended the meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Shahbaz said those stealing electricity and gas were criminals and they deserved to be punished to the full extent of the law. The Punjab chief minister said subscribers were facing serious hardships as the power thieves were stealing electricity and gas worth millions of rupees but honest consumers had to face the consequences by paying hefty bills.
He said all power companies, including LESCO and Faisalabad Electric Supply Company, should launch a vigorous media campaign against power theft in their respective areas and they would have the support of the police against the thieves.
Shahbaz said that in case of electricity and gas theft, action should also be taken against Water and Power Development Authority and SNGPL officers. He directed the inspector-general of police to constitute special teams comprising honest and hardworking officers to take action against the people involved in the illegal practice and submit challans in the courts by registering cases against such persons.
Earlier, Secretary Task Force on the Eradication of Electricity and Gas Theft, Irfan Ali, apprised Shahbaz about the performance of the taskforce and the details of the action taken against those stealing power.
He said that vigorous action was continuing against electricity and gas thieves. Ali said gas theft of millions of rupees had been traced in Faisalabad and Gujranwala.
‘No progress without energy’
Shahbaz also said Pakistan could not make any headway in the fight against the energy crisis that had negatively impacted on the economy and assured that the government was working vigorously to address the crisis.
He said this at a high-level meeting on Saturday to review the progress and implementation on various energy projects. Provincial ministers for energy, irrigation, agriculture, chief secretary, chairman Planning and Development, among others attended the meeting.
The meeting discussed biomass, hydel and other sources of energy to generate power. Shahbaz, who chaired the meeting, said resolving the energy crisis was the foremost priority of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government as without it, “the dream of developing the economy and enhancing foreign investment can never be materialised”.
He said the Punjab government was encouraging the launching of energy projects through public-private partnership and all facilities would be provided to investors in this regard. Promoting the use of biomass, he said the material for the source of energy was abundantly available and energy could be generated through it. Talks were held with China for cooperation in biomass, hydel and solar energy sectors and there would be progress made in this regard, the Punjab chief minister claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.