Indian states tackle energy theft


Various revenue collection programmes have been enacted in states in India in an effort to curb the growing problem of energy theft – and results have generally been excellent.

The Gujarat Electricity Board has introduced a scheme which calls for voluntary declaration of power theft. In the Rajkot area alone 62,000 people have confessed to drawing power illegally, and millions of rupees have been recovered. The utility also changed 16,000 faulty meters as part of its state-wide drive against power theft, and plans to check every meter in areas where transmission and distribution loss is more than 30%. The GEB has formed several vigilance teams to curb revenue loss, and has arrested nine of its personnel, including three meter readers, charging them with power theft.

Other states have enacted anti-theft legislation, under which provisions have been made more stringent, including imprisonment of those found guilty of stealing electricity. Utility employees are included in these provisions – they can be charged with collusion with consumers. In West Bengal the new laws include imprisonment of up to five years for those found guilty. In Kamataka 900,000 unauthorised connections have been regularised, and over 2,400 cases of theft have been identified and the perpetrators charged. Once again recoveries have amounted to millions of rupees.