Slums in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs continue to account for most cases of electricity theft, data compiled by Reliance Energy has revealed. The discom claimed that of the 583 people booked in 200 cases reported from across the suburbs in the 2017-18 financial year, 333 were booked in 63 cases reported from the stretch between Kurla and Mankhurd.
In the western suburbs — between Goregaon and Borivali and Bandra and Vile Parle, 41 FIRs were lodged. Another 40 FIRs were registered between Andheri and Jogeshwari, and 15 between Borivali and Bhayander, revealed the data.
The firm has also identified the localities of Shivaji Nagar, Cheetah Camp, Trombay and Mankhurd in the east suburbs; Behrampada in Jogeshwari and Juhu Lane in the western suburbs; and Malvani in the north as theft-prone areas.
In August last year, a gang of alleged electricity theives in Govandi’s Shivaji Nagar, who had 24 cases registered against them, was also booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
Shahaji Umap, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VI), said the police regularly conduct drives, in association with Reliance Energy to disconnect illegal connections. “We tackle electricity thefts aggressively. Last year, a child was electrocuted after coming in contact with an illegal electricity line. We arrested six-seven electricity thieves and booked them with culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” he said.
Umap added that invoking charges under the MCOC Act has proved a major deterrent in clamping down on cases of electricity theft. The police and the firm also recovered 51 tonnes of illegal wires, while the latter collected Rs 14.63 crore in fines in 2017-18, the data revealed.
Figures have also revealed a steady increase in the number of criminal prosecutions — 411 of the customers were booked in 120 FIRs in 2016-17, and 246 in 56 cases in 2015-16.
A spokesperson for Reliance Energy said, “To stem the menace of power theft, our vigilance teams, along with the Mumbai Police, conduct regular inspection raids in identified pockets to book offenders and wipe out illegal networks used by them. Electricity theft is not only a punishable offence but hazardous as well.
A person coming in contact with live electricity wire runs the risk of sustaining fatal injuries. Live wires used for theft can also cause serious accidents. The invoking of MCOCA in power theft cases is encouraging and we are confident that this will further help in eradicating this scourge from the society.”