The Telegraph
Saturday , May 31 , 2014
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Setback for power theft control cell

Bhubaneswar, May 30: Authorities’ aim to check power theft has suffered a setback as the state electricity theft control cell has never been operational since it was set up in 2012 due to lack of the government support.

Perturbed by the loss of Rs 3,200 crore per year on account of power theft, the state government had set up the cell. The government had appointed retired IPS officer Amulya Kumar Mohanty as the head of the vigilance wing to regulate functioning of all the 34 energy police stations across the state. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s concurrence was obtained for the nodal officer’s appointment. A gazette notification was also issued to this effect.

But, the nodal officer heading the department has quit the organisation.

Besides, the nodal office, set up on the premises of the Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco), the state had also established four offices in four regions — Chainpal in Angul, Jharsuguda, Rayagada and Barbil to activate the anti-theft cell.

According to the arrangement, the cost of the zonal-level electricity theft control cell was to be borne by the respective distribution companies.

While the Central Electricity Supply Utility (Cesu) was to bear 40 per cent of the burden, the Northern Electricity Supply Company (Nesco) had to share a burden of 20 per cent of the expenditure. Similarly, the Western Electricity Supply Company (Wesco) and the Southern Electricity Supply Company (Southco) were to share a burden of 20 per cent each of the entire expenditure.

The distribution companies would have to place the funds before the chairman-cum-managing director of Gridco for payment of remuneration to officers and employees of the state electricity theft control cell by 25th of each month.

But no infrastructure, including the required manpower, inspector, computer assistant and home guard, was provided to the nodal office. Even no vehicle and phone was given to it.

“After Mohanty left, the post has been lying vacant,” admitted a senior Gridco official, adding that an ego clash among senior officials had led to the collapse of the theft control cell.

In another development, the regional head of the Chainpal in Angul had also quit the office.

“No advertisement has been issued till date to head the offices at other regions. The theft cell has been lying defunct,” said an official.

Now, the state’s transmission and distribution loss along with its commercial loss has been pegged at 38 per cent. “If we save 1 per cent power theft, the state can save nearly Rs 80 crore per annum on this front. On the other hand, if raids reduce power loss by 10 per cent, the state can save at least Rs 800 crore,” he said.

While senior officials kept mum on the issue, newly appointed energy minister Pranab Prakash Das, who is at present in Mumbai, said: “I am new to the department. I will certainly look into it after I return.”