Country lost Rs380b to electricity theft in ongoing fiscal year

ISLAMABAD-There is no respite in the power theft in the country as Rs380 billion electricity has been stolen in the ongoing fiscal year (2022-23) and it is estimated that the loss will reach Rs520 billion next year.
Secretary Power Division Rashid Langriyal, while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Energy (Power Division), said that electricity theft this year was Rs380 billion, of which Rs200 billion was stolen through Kundas and Rs80 billion was stolen through meters and other sources.
The Committee, which met under the chairmanship of Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari, was told by Secretary Power Division that due to increase in power tariff, it is estimated that next year the theft amount will reach Rs520 billion. 
The Secretary Power apprised the committee that it was really a serious issue but the DISCOs had resorted to this due to continuous losses, theft and accumulation of huge arrears. He agreed that the law abiding citizens were facing the brunt in that regard. He informed that various options were taken into consideration but dropped due to huge financial cost. He assured the Committee for bringing up his Ministry’s recommendations in next meeting.
He said that the bill payers will also be affected if they do not resort to loadshedding due to power theft and they will be burdened with an additional Rs 220b per month  He said that power cannot be cut off from the feeders to prevent power theft. To prevent power theft, there is a plan to prevent power theft with transformers instead of feeders, he added. 
Secretary told the committee that Rs 5 billion worth of electricity is being stolen from a grid station in Bannu every year.  The Secretary Power said that to control power theft ABC cables (aerial bundled cables) were introduced, however this measure has also failed. In Sukkur firms have invented the method to steal electricity from ABC cables, Secretary power alleged. Power thieves hire the services of these firms, Secretary Power Division said. He said that in PESCO region electricity worth Rs 185b was stolen.
There is a plan to privatize billing and recovery of the XWDiscos, he added.
The Committee has asked the Power Division to pass on directions to all the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) and the K-Electric to ensure billing as per meter and not otherwise. The Committee also asked the Ministry to submit a report on how to tackle issue of forced loadshedding on electricity feeders by the respective electricity distribution company. 
The Committee was apprised that the K-Electric was forcibly shutting down various feeders in Karachi on the pretext on non-recovery of electricity bills. The member of the Committee from Karachi contented that the electricity consumers paying their bills regularly should not suffer on the behest of the electricity Kunda mafia and habitual defiant consumers. The Committee agreed with the member and opined that issue was pervasive besides being grave and the Ministry should look into this and bring a comprehensive report in that regard in next meeting of the Committee. 
The Committee, while discussing issue of over billing and billing to electricity consumers whose house were demolished in the floods in year 2022, ordered for compliance as per announcement by the Prime Minister. The Secretary Power Division assured that as per assessment of losses by NDMA bills were waived off.
The Committee pended discussion on the PSDP proposals of the Ministry with directions for preparations of a presentation with complete details of the demands. The Committee also directed all the distribution companies to ensure completion of projects under SDGs achievement program without further delay for which funds had been already released. 
The Committee meeting was attended by members of the committee, movers of the matters referred to the Committee by the House, Secretary Power Division and other senior officers of the ministry and distribution companies.