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Delayed power courts on fast track

Calcutta, April 9: Nine months of dilly-dallying later, the state government has decided to set up special courts in five districts within a month to deal only with power-theft cases.

Addressing a news conference, power minister Mrinal Banerjee said: “We had passed an Act to curb power theft in July. But we were not able to set up the special courts in time. Now the time has come to set up these courts. We are currently having discussions on the modalities of these courts.”

The government is also planning to raise a utility protection force to deal exclusively with power pilferage.

Increasing theft of power in the command area of the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB) poses a threat to the stability of the power supply system and bleeds the board to the tune of Rs 800 crore annually.

In 2002-03, the board inspected 16,739 industrial and 42 bulk consumers and detected misuse of power and theft in 1,750 cases in the industrial consumer category only.

As a result of increased inspection and vigilance, the board’s revenue rose by Rs 6 crore in the medium and low voltage sector and Rs 3 crore in the bulk category for the quarter ending March 2003.

Mentioning one of the recent drives, WBSEB chairman Sanjay Mitra said that on April 4, the board, with the help of police, arrested Chandrasekhar Jaiswal, Parvez Jaiswal and Dipak Barua, alias Mama, for power theft. “They were involved in tampering of meters, both static and electronic,” he said.

Mitra said the board has kept a target of inspecting 25,000 consumers in different categories for this year. Drives will also be initiated to prevent and remove unauthorised hooking by 2,00,000 people across the state.

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