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The Gujarat government’s drive to check power theft launched when Narendra Modi was chief minister had seen Modi taking a keen interest in the campaign, including suggesting that real handcuffs be shown on posters to create fear among pilferers, according to a former minister in his government Saurabh Patel.
Speaking at Switch Global Expo here during the “Innovation Lecture Series”, inaugurated by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, the Vadodara MLA and former cabinet minister for energy and petrochemicals in Gujarat said that the government, under instructions from Modi had launched a campaign ‘Bijli Chori, Jail ki saza’, under which posters were put up with “real handcuffs” as per the instructions of Modi.
Patel narrated an incident where Modi rejected posters of artificial handcuffs and insisted that the team must photograph real handcuffs to drive the point home.
Patel said, “The posters were made as per the CM’s instructions. He told specifically to bring hatkadis (handcuffs), and the slogan was Bijli chori, jail ki saza. When we showed him the poster, he said, “This is an artificial hatkadi, take a real hatkadi from a police station, photograph it, and put it on the poster.’ We did that. And today, we are proud to say that the thefts have come down. All companies are doing well. Then the losses came down.”
Patel also narrated the history of the bifurcation of the erstwhile PSU Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) leading to the turnaround of Gujarat’s power sector that has recorded surplus electricity in the last few years, after being a loss-making utility.
Patel said, “In 2003, GEB, which had a turnover of Rs 8,500 crore was making losses of Rs 2,500 crore. For the first time in the country, power purchase agreements were renegotiated and we annually saved Rs 500 crore. We renegotiated interest rates with banks and brought it down which benefitted the company. We converted loans to equity and convinced them to introduce fresh capital to build infrastructure. Thus, we generated a capital support of Rs 4,900 crore and stakeholders into confidence.”