The state government has given a go-ahead to raise two State Reserved Police Force (SRPF) groups in Gujarat as dedicated wings working on power thefts and special crimes. This comes to force as the state police is unable to concentrate on districts more prone to power thefts in villages.
The two new groups are trained at the SRP training college in Junagadh to keep vigil on power thefts in the districts as additional lessons. The state government considered new units after an experiment of deploying SRP personnel at an Octroi naka in Kutch bore fruit.
Explaining why a trained SRPF is required for specialised thefts of power in the state, Additional Chief Secretary home S K Nanda said, “The police in districts are not able to specially work on such cases where the root of the crime is in the interiors. Most of the time, the crime takes place so discreetly that it requires lot of investigation, disturbing the law and order situation. A dedicated, reserved team of SRP to check power thefts will itself drastically reduce the cases” adding that the units would be reserved for such ‘special’ crimes too.
Trained in various arms,the force is raised to provide security during civil unrest, terrorist strikes, natural disasters and public events. its vigilance against power thefts would be a more specialized form of watch on the farmers and industries that are usually found to be involved in such cases. The home department officials added that the units would be on the beneficiary budget of the state to work on this assignment.
The state home department is assessing the areas that record more power thefts where the force would be deployed. Moreover, these two teams would not be used for an additional bandobast or events except for emergencies. A total of over 1.64 lakh cases of electricity theft, worth close to Rs 100 crore, was reported last year.
The maximum number of cases among agricultural consumers have been reported from the districts in water-starved Saurashtra region of the state. In the last one year, 38,900 cases of power theft was discovered in Bhavnagar alone, which is the highest in the state.
There were 25,100 cases in Amreli, 28,400 cases in Junagadh, 18,400 cases in Rajkot and 18,300 cases in Surendranagar. The State Home Department officials added that the two units would be initially based in Gandhinagar with allocation to the targetted districts later.