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Power theft raids: How they happened, and why Haryana govt carried them out

Why did the electricity department take on such a massive exercise? How were the raids planned? What were the findings?

Written by Sukhbir Siwach , Edited by Explained Desk |
March 1, 2021 9:45:25 am
Haryana Power Minister Ranjit Chautala referred to the move as ‘unprecedented in the history of the state’.

In just two days, authorities of power utilities in Haryana have detected almost 2,500 cases of electricity theft while conducting raids at industries and commercial establishments in five towns and cities of the state. Haryana Power Minister Ranjit Chautala referred to the move as “unprecedented in the history of the state”. The Indian explains the objective and message of the electricity department raids:

Why did the electricity department take on such a massive exercise?

Power utilities have been routinely conducting raids to detect cases of electricity theft. However, Power Minister Ranjit Chautala was getting feedback that industries and big commercial establishments are big contributors to electricity theft. To send across the message that “big players won’t be spared”, raids were planned and conducted in a very coordinated way to detect theft in big industries.

How were the raids planned?

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Ranjit Chautala informed Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar about the matter, after which the latter gave the green signal to conduct raids on a massive level. Then, the minister took feedback from the officers of CM’ Flying Squad and electricity department’s own vigilance wing. However, only the CM, power minister and Additional Chief Secretary P K Das were aware about the exact timings of the raids.

Before conducting raids, top officers collected details about possible cases where electricity was being stolen. Sources say the minister wanted the raids conducted in a way that teams of ED and income tax departments carry out the exercise at several places simultaneously. The raids started at 4.30 am on Saturday, but details did not come out in the public domain till 6 pm, when the minister himself held a press conference about the ongoing exercise.

The raids continued till Sunday evening. They were carried out in industries running in five big cities including Gurugram, Dharuhera, Faridabad, Rewari and Hisar, detecting cases of power theft through ‘kundi connections’ and irregularities in meter connections.

What were the findings?

Around 1,500 people split in 236 teams of power utilities carried out the raids. On Saturday, they detected 1,300 cases of electricty theft after conducting raids at 3,500 premises. For the first day, the power minister had estimated that the raids will ensure additional revenue of Rs 100 crore to the state exchequer. Giving an example, Chautala said at one place, an industry owner did not deposit a bill of Rs 4.7 crore and took another electricity connection with the connivance of a sub-divisional officer (SDO) of the department. Now, the industry owner has to deposit the entire pending amount alongwith the penalty. P K Das says a penalty of over Rs 5 crore was imposed on those found indulging in electricity theft Saturday. Till Sunday evening, as many as 2,500 cases of power theft were detected in Haryana in two days.

What is the government saying?

With these raids, the Haryana government wants to send across the message that it will not spare big players in the cases of electricity theft. According to officials, in the first phase, the government wants to focus on major cases of theft like they did during ongoing exercise of raids. Earlier too, in a raid conducted during one night in 2020, nine officers including three chief engineers and five superintending engineers of the electricity department were caught stealing electricity by kundi (illegal) connections. A penalty of Rs 7 lakh was imposed on them. “It sent out a message that tough action will be initiated if anybody is found involved in the theft of electricity,” Chautala had said then.

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An official said, “There is an annual billing of Rs 25,000 crore for electricity consumption in Haryana. If even one per cent electricity is stolen, it can cause a loss of Rs 250 crore to the state exchequer. We can keep the electricity tariff at a constant if we succeed in stopping electricity theft.”

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