Power Theft ?:40,000 electricity meters show ‘zero’ consumption

AURANGABAD: Over 2.25 lakh electricity meters in Aurangabad zone have been under the scanner of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) for unexpectedly low consumption. Of these, as many as 40,228 meters have zero consumption, baffling the state power utility officials. The remaining 1,85,539 meters have consumption in the range of 0 to 30 units, which is also considered to be an anomaly. MSEDCL Aurangabad zone chief engineer Suresh Ganeshkar on Wednesday said that a special inspection drive has been ordered to verify the credentials of suspicious meters. “The figure of over 2.25 lakh suspicious meters has been worked out from our monthly database of October. The low consumption by such a large number of consumers is more than what meets the eyes and therefore we have decided to investigate each case,” he said. Ganeshkar said door-to-door visits to consumers having exceptionally low usage have been ordered to expose wrongdoings, if any. “A considerable chunk of such meters are in areas which are notorious for power theft. Meter bypass, slowing down of meters and direct power theft are some of the malpractices. Legitimate action will be taken against errant consumers,” he said .

The authorities said minimum 50 units of consumption is expected considering minimum use of even a small family and therefore consumers having less than 30 units of consumption were under the scanner. “We do not rule of the possibility of some genuine cases where consumption is actually less but those are likely to be less in number. Also, there exist consumers whose power connection might have been disconnected on a temporary basis. Cases like these are also expected to surface during the investigation,” he said. Aurangabad zone, which comprises of Aurangabad and Jalna districts, has around 11.5 lakh consumers. The MSEDCL top brass said it has accorded top-priority to the inspection drive , which is expected to get over within less than a week. The MSEDCL has prepared two independent databases that include consumers having zero consumption and those with consumption in the range of 1 unit to 30 unit. As per Section 126 of the Electricity Act 2003, in case of detection of unauthorized use of energy, tariff equal to twice the applicable tariff for the relevant category is recovered. Also, Section 135 of the Act stipulates for initiating police action among other stern actions. [The Times OF India]

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