Increased vigilance by the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) has resulted in a 40 per cent fall in power theft in 2012 from 2011.
BESCOM purchased a total of 25.65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2012 of which 61.31 million units per second (MUS) of electricity was stolen, costing more than Rs 40 million. In 2010 and 2011, the quantity of electricity was 100.43 MUS and 100.61 MUS respectively.
Electricity theft is one of the main reasons for power loss in Bangalore, adding to the need for more purchase of electricity.
According to information from the BESCOM vigilance office, a total of 3,380 power theft cases were registered in 2012, including both cognizable and non-cognizable cases. In 2011, 2,877 such cases were registered.
BESCOM buys electricity from several other companies, including Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation and National Thermal Power Corporation.
“Power is often stolen from street lights,” said a sub-inspector of Indiranagar Vigilance Police, who asked not to be named. Mallikarjuna, the inspector of Indiranagar Vigilance Police, said, “A large quantity of electricity goes missing from rural Bangalore and from poultry farms which are usually outside the main city.”
When a person is caught stealing power he or she is liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 1,000,000. The fine varies with the amount of electricity stolen. If the offender does not pay the fine, a charge-sheet is filed against that person for recovery of the fine.
D.S. Sidde Gowda, deputy superintendent of police (BESCOM vigilance) said theft cases are booked following surprise visits to areas where power theft is suspected to be taking place.
“The problem is that we don’t know where exactly the crime takes place,” he said. “We have to spread our force all over the city. There are cases where people illegally take connections or alter the meter and thus end up paying less. It is not easy to catch such people and figure out the quantity of electricity that goes missing. See, electricity theft happens throughout the city, and we are trying our level best to keep track.”
Anand Naik, chief general manager and chairman of BESCOM, had a different point of view. According to him, “Only a small quantity of electricity is stolen every year and so that’s not a big problem.”
(Debasree graduated from Delhi University before joining the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore. This article first appeared in her campus paper, The SoftCopy.)