Power pilferage has been an issue in the City for years. But the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (Bescom) says it has been able to arrest this menace in recent years by a stress on public awareness.

A Bescom Vigilance Department official told Deccan Herald that in the month of May 2016, the team booked 138 cognizable cases and collected Rs 104.23 lakh as penalty. They also booked 191 non- cognizable cases and collected Rs 181.02 lakh penalty. Of this, the Bengaluru division alone booked 13 cognizable and 157 non-cognizable cases.

The maximum non-cognizable cases were booked in Malleswaram (94) followed by Rajajinagar (58), three in Jayanagar and two in Indiranagar.

Last month, a major case of stealing power by bypassing the meter was reported in Whitefield. This was worth Rs 26 lakh and the culprit was a private mobile tower company. Two months back, a penalty f Rs 30 lakh was imposed on a violator, who had drawn power, claiming industrial usage. But it was found to be used for a chowltry in Nagawara.

During the financial year 2015-16, a total of 1,953 cognizable and 1,414 non-cognizable cases were booked against offenders across all Bescom divisions. The maximum number of cognizable cases were booked in July 2015 (295), followed by June 2015 (239) and August 2015 (176).

The maximum number of non-cognizable cases booked were in September 2015 (182), followed by October 2015 (157) and August 2015 (138).

According to vigilance officials, most cases in Bengaluru are related to power misuse than power theft. In most cases, consumers take the connection citing domestic usage, but run a commercial unit, like in Koramanagala or Malleswaram.

 Some take connection stating industrial usage, but run commercial complexes. There are also cases where meters are tampered with. However, cases of hooking lines such as those often reported from North Indian cities are rare here, because of increased awareness and daily vigilance, the official claims.

The average monthly target of Bescom Vigilance Wing is Rs 2 crore and on an average, Rs 1.2 crore is collected. Power theft and misuse cases amount to just 2% of total supply. Transmission and distribution loses amount to 7-8%.

At other Bescom limits, most power theft cases are reported from irrigation projects and borewell connections. In Bengaluru city, cases of power misuse are more, where water and power are scarce.

Apart from undertaking daily inspections, the department also conducts monthly energy audits where each transformer readings are analysed with monthly consumer readings.

Taking the difference and increase in usage over a period of two months, the vigilance team pins down the offenders. Consumers are the major informants. On an average, Bescom receives 50- 60 complaints, of which around 50% turn out to be fake, the official informs.[DECCAN HERALD]

The respect for �uniforms� helps group of 6 steal a transformer.

The authority of fake khaki uniforms copied from the Maharashtra State Electricity Board helped a group of thieves to efficiently dismantle a live transformer in a village in Virar, and make off with the booty.

The ‘team’ came equipped with a heavy duty crane to expedite the operation, and being aware of the 120 KVA transformer being live and functional, cut the power supply before getting down to work.

To curious residents, one of the six members of the group introduced himself as a Junior Officer of the MSEB.

The operation began on Tuesday afternoon at around 2.30 p.m., when the men in MSEB ‘uniform’ arrived at Khandanwadi village on the Umbergaothan-Navapur road in Agashi, Virar.

Some residents of the area wanted to know what was going on, to which the thieves confidently replied that the MSEB had a big plan to replace old transformers with new ones.

The theft thereafter proceeded smoothly with no interference from anyone, and the transformer was hauled off in a van. In the evening, though, the villagers discovered that no replacement was coming. They then called the MSEB to ask about the plan for a new transformer, since it was growing dark. The truth was then revealed to both sides.

MSEB officials in charge of Virar rushed to the spot to find their transformer missing and houses in darkness. They filed a complaint of theft under Section 379 of the IPC against unknown persons.

Harihar Gothwad, Additional Executive Engineer, MSEB, Vasai confirmed the incident, but said the officials “immediately made alternative power arrangements for the consumers.”

Power transformers have copper coils and oil that fetch a good amount in the scrap market.

A new transformer costs around Rs. 2 lakh.

In a similar incident in Virar in 2015, two people clad in MSEB uniforms had made off with copper wires and oil from a transformer in Virar East. They are yet to be arrested.[THE HINDU]

Student sentenced to 11 years in prison for electricity theft

A 23 year old Gutu man studying electrical engineering at Kwekwe Polytechnical College was recently slapped with an eleven year jail term for illegally connecting electricity directly to his father's shop at Chihambakwe business centre in Gutu.

Gideon Gweshengwe (23) was charged for contravening Section 60 A (1) (a) of the Electricity Act chapter 13:19 for abstracting and diverting electricity.

The court heard that the college student unlawfully connected electricity at Chengetai Investment Stores in at Chihambakwe business centre from January to May 20.

The offence was discovered by a Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) liaison officer who reported to the police, leading to the suspect's arrest.

Gweshengwe pleaded guilty before Gutu Resident Magistrate Edwin Marecha and begged for mercy saying he was still a student and was ready to pay the outstanding bill.

"I am sorry your worship, if you may forgive me and let me pay the outstanding bill. I connected electricity because when ZESA people came in January in Chihambakwe, they only connected for our neighbor despite the fact that we had also paid the connection fee and called the same day.

"I was hurt seeing how these people are corrupt and decided to connect for myself since I learnt the skill at school," Gweshengwe said.

Marecha sentenced the 23 year old to eleven 11years saying there is nothing the court would do to lessen the sentence since such offenses were already recorded.

Marecha however suspended 1 year on condition that Gweshengwe pays US$1 684 to ZESA by November 30 2016 failure of which he will serve the whole 11 years.

Millicent Azangwe prosecuted.news