The development of power sector of a nation is closely linked to the overall economic growth of the nation. The importance of the power sector can therefore never be underestimated. India being a developing nation has even more to expect from this sector. But it is unfortunate that in spite of all the measures taken by the Central and State governments, the power sector organizations are still facing huge losses. Though people often curse the authorities in their respective areas every time when massive power failure occurs; there is something else also they need to know. The recent grid failure that occurred on July 30 and 31 this year which affected around 600 million people of the country was not solely a result of ineffective administration in the power sector. One important reason was the massive power theft that is so common in this country.

Situation of Power Theft in different states of India

UP is the country’s biggest center of power thefts. The state also has the country’s most inefficient power sector. The state is also blamed for overdrawing electricity from the national grid through illegal means. So it can be concluded that power theft in India is not limited to domestic households; rather industries and States also steal power. On the other hand, the states of Gujarat, West Bengal and Delhi have improvised their power sector through a series of reforms (Denyer, 2012). Haryana government has also taken initiative to control power theft by introducing a scheme called ‘theft informer scheme’ where they reward the power theft informers with cash. The officials who detect the theft are also rewarded under this scheme.

Reasons behind power theft in India

Power theft occurs in two main ways: meter frauds i.e. manipulating the electricity usage data and, un-metered usage where the power is enjoyed for free. Political interference is a major reason promoting power theft in India. There are incidences when officials from the state-owned power sector companies are transferred, suspended or sometimes even killed if they try to expose the culprits. Another strange fact which confirms the politics of populism in the sector is that power theft increases during elections. This also shows that political leaders earn votes by allowing electricity theft. Farmers occupy a major chunk of voters in the country and the political leaders often promise them free or subsidized electricity to attract their votes. Moreover, most of the overhead electrical wires in India are still not insulated facilitating illegal hookups. The ineffective law enforcement system in the country regarding power theft further removes the fear among power thieves.

Impact of power theft on the Indian economy:

According to the World Bank estimates, power theft reduces India’s GDP by around 1.5% (Smith, 2012). A recent study by NDTV also concluded that 40% of the electricity in India is unpaid (NDTV, 2012). Of all the power generated in the country, around 1/4th is either stolen or lost in transmission. This figure is 5 times the figures for China and one of the reasons why India is not developing at the same pace as China (Denyer, 2012). These data itself show the pathetic situation of power sector in the country. UP has the lowest growth rate across the country which in a way proves that level of electricity losses and the economic growth rate are inversely related.

There is definitely a need for strict regulations against power theft in the country but the situation can never improve unless the people themselves do not stop stealing power. This requires more of a moral awakening rather enforcement of legal penalties.[Ankita Agarwal] Image IUS Technologies 

It’s not good news for the residents of New Palam Vihar, as they will soon have to pay for some people indulging in electricity theft. The Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam (Dhbvn) said it will cut electricity supply for four hours daily in the area to compensate for the line-loss from Wednesday.The residents made their misgivings known over the utility’s power cut plan.The department has failed to fix the power theft problem of the city.“We are surprised to hear that they will cut down on electric supply to compensate for line loss. We have not received any information from the department in this regard,” said Azad Kataria, a resident.

“The officials can check every house for meter tampering and illegal connections at night. There are several other ways to deal with power theft,” Kataria said.Lokesh Sharma, another resident, said, “The residents of New Palam Vihar are being targeted because this locality is yet to be regularized by the Haryana government. Power theft is happening across the city and even in posh localities.”Read I Gurgaon reels under 8-hour power cuts, officials cite maintenance workNavin Verma, superintending engineer (SE) Dhbvn Gurgaon Circle I, said that New Palam Vihar has reported 35 percent line-loss.

“We have direction from the government to consider the line loss percentage while supplying power. The line loss is less than 20% in areas where the DHBVN supplies power for 24 hours, while it goes up to 20-25% in areas where the supply is for 22 hours. The line loss is anywhere between 25% and 35% in areas where the DHBVN supplies power for 20 hours. The supply is further reduced to 18% in areas where the line loss has been reported at between 35% and 50%. In areas where the loss is more than 50%, the supply is reduced to 12 hours,” Verma said.The DHBVN official said the residents will have to cooperate in order to check power theft, as it has emerged as a major cause of concern for the Haryana government. It has issued strict directions to utilities to check power theft and boost supply.[Hindustan Times]

Police on Sunday registered a case against a senior official of a tea strainer manufacturing unit for alleged Rs 10 crore power theft since November 2011 by tampering an electricity meter.State Vigilance department in the wee hours of Saturday, conducted a raid and detected an electricity theft at a  Tea Strainers Mfg company at Sitafalwadi, Mazgoan.

The raiding team, headed by a senior officer, found 176KW connected load to the company and estimated loss in range of Rs 10 crore involving two Current Transformer meters. They are also suspecting a third meter and are further investigating.According to sources, the Vigilance department after receiving the information raided the company in wee hours. The department has accused the owner of the company for the electricity theft. He has not been arrested yet.After the raid, the Vigilance department approached the Byculla police station and gave them the raid details and documents. The complaint was accordingly filed under Indian Electricity act 2003.

Senior inspector of the Byculla police station  confirmed the development and said that the investigation is on to check if any other people are also involved in the crime.[MID DAY]