The internationally acclaimed documentary film, Katiyabaaz, portrayed riveting cat-and-mouse games between a government officer and a fixer of katiyas (wires illegally attached to transmission lines to steal and sell electricity in an organised manner) in UP’s Kanpur.
Authorities in Delhi are also now hot on the trail of rackets and individuals as illegal connections have been sparking massive revenue losses and crippling power shortages.
Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL) that caters to 70 lakh customers has begun flying nano drones to catch culprits and also to monitor transmission and distribution networks to detect faults and fix supply disruptions.
“Drone usage will provide faster, better and more accurate service resolutions,” he said. These drones weigh less than 2 kg and fly below 200 feet, with permission from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Delhi Police.
Usage of drones helps in close-up, detailed imagery of installations, scanning potential defects for maintenance personnel. Drones can also capture tower and pole images from various angles, giving a fuller picture, which is often not possible with other inspection methods.
Two other power distribution companies –BYPL and BRPL — of BSES are also thinking on similar lines.
BSES has finalised a programme to use drones for asset mapping and network monitoring through thermo scanning, they said. “A large part of BSES’ area comes under the no-flying zone. Because of this, using drones for controlling power theft has limited use in its area. Having said that, the discom is actively considering the possibility of deploying drones to control power theft in areas which are not under the no flying zone,” sources said.
BSES also continues its crackdown on power theft through lok adalats.
A BIG MENACE
In the last one decade, 10,000 people have been arrested and 1,200 convicted for stealing electricity in Delhi. “About 9 per cent of Delhi’s electricity worth Rs 400 crore is lost to theft. The percentage was 60 per cent when private discoms came into picture in the early 1990s,” said an official.
Some of the hotspots where 25-40 per cent of electricity is being stolen are: Najafgarh, Jaffarpur Kalan, Mundka, Karawal Nagar, Seelampur, Mandawali, Chandni Mahal, Nand Nagari, Yamuna Vihar, Daryaganj, Dallupura, Khichripur, Shastri Park, Baljeet Nagar, Sabhapur, Burari, Jahangirpuri, Wazirabad and Shaheen Bagh.